2023 Shortlist

The 500 records of Femicide

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: South Korea

Publishing organisation: The ‘Hankyoreh 21’ is a weekly magazine published by Hankyoreh media that practices high-quality journalism. No topic is taboo in our wide-ranging approach to investigative reporting.
The Hankyoreh is one of the representative daily newspaper in South Korea, available in both print and digital formats. It continues to identify and present news on a range of topics, including climate change, gender, and animal welfare.

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 2022-01-19

Language: Korean

Authors: Park, DaHae (doall@hani.co.kr)
Um, JiWon (umkija@hani.co.kr)
Ko, HanSol (sol@hani.co.kr)
Lee, JeongKyu (jk@hani.co.kr)


We are the members of team Hankyoreh21. We each have more than five years of experience in journalism fields. We received an award the ‘Data Visualization Article of the Year 2022’ at Korea Data Journalism Awards and ‘Gender Equality Media Award’ by the Department of Gender Equality and Family for this ‘Femicide’ project.

Project description:

These are the first articles to comprehensively analyze Femicide records in Korea.
Among the 2,000 rulings sentenced between 2016 and 2021, 427 ‘meaningful’ rulings that can be clearly classified as Femicide were selected .
We also found 73 cases more in which a man killed a woman and killed himself in media.
There are no articles that have discussed 500 cases and vastly described over 600 pages for total on such a single topic.
We won the ‘Data Visualization Article of the Year 2022’ at Korea Data Journalism Awards.

Impact reached:

After the 2016 “Gangnam Station Women’s Murder Case,” women continued to mourn and anger, saying, “I survived because I was lucky.” Femicide, the most extreme violence against women, is increasingly known through individual cases, but there have been no reports that the gender-based violence is treated as a ‘phenomenon’ and ‘structural problem’
‘Hankyoreh21′(Weekly paper of Hankyoreh media)’s ‘500 Femicide Records’ received meaningful reviews from administrative authorities, experts, and general readers. After the report, many people from various fields said thank you to us. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “I saw the article well,” but it’s my first time hearing, “Thank you for writing the article.” Especially, women’s studies researchers, government officials, and civil society activists said, “Reporters have done what we failed to do.”
Why couldn’t they do this in the meantime? It may be because the state has not been interested in the ‘death’ of women. After our report, several police officials who are set to reorganize the criminal justice system (called Kicks) in 2022. And officials who are considering gender violence have also said they got “a lot of inspiration.”
I was invited to a related discussion meeting and asked about the analyzed data. The National Police Agency is preparing to improve the system to correct criminal statistics regarding femicide. In itself, our reports have renewed social interest in the murdered women.
More than thousands of reactive web pages, which allow victims of domestic violence to experience the possibility of a “safe breakup,” have been shared on social media such as Twitter, drawing attention. Since then, whenever there have been murders of women, such as the Inha University sexual violence murder and the Sindang Station stalking murder, the Femicide report has been shared and highlighted through SNS.

Techniques/technologies used:

We analyzed the 3,500-page rulings over 50 items (the type of relationship between the perpetrator and the victim, the location of the murder, the area of the incident, the duration of the relationship, the main method of crime, the motive for the murder, the average sentence of the defendant, etc.)
Various statistics analyzed in this way were implemented with graphs and fact check system. Based on these results, interactive news was visualized using HTML, css, and javascript. We collaborated with illustration designers to create a separate web page where readers can record their experiences, and to break the conventional notion of “why women who have experienced domestic violence can’t escape from the perpetrators of violence,” we expressed the seriousness of the problem online.
The SNS response on the web page (https://stop-femicide.hani.co.kr), which allows victims of domestic violence to experience the possibility of a “safe breakup” with the perpetrator, was also very hot. Tens of thousands of cases were shared on Twitter, and messages of sympathy poured out to the victims, regardless of gender.
On the special web page (http://speakup.hani.co.kr), titled “Let me hear your surviving voice,” hundreds of ordinary citizens wrote about their experiences with gender violence and femicide.
If you search on Facebook or Twitter with keywords such as ‘femicide’ and ‘murdered women’, you can easily find articles related to ‘Hankyoreh 21’s Femicide reports or web pages.

Context about the project:

There are no statistics on women being killed in close relationships in Korea. Femicide is also a relatively underdeveloped topic in domestic academia. Even the police and the prosecution, which are investigative agencies, have been recording statistics on cases in old-fashioned way, so they have not even been able to figure out in what context women are killed by and how many women are killed by thier boyfriend, spouse or husband.
This is why we manually searched and found the ruling in the court library for more than a month.
In order to ensure that our records do not end up with flat data trapped in the ‘judgment sentence’, we met with those who lost their mothers or daughters to femicide crimes, and listened to women who survived from their own threats to death.
From January 2016 to November 2021, media reports (including news agencies) combined words such as “lover, girlfriend, woman, dating, wife, couple, murder, suicide, extreme choice, abandonment, police” to find 73 cases in which a man killed a woman and killed himself.
And also we consulted with domestic and foreign experts, activists, and investigative agency officials who were thinking about how to prevent violence against women, and received professional manuscripts for articles.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

When the murder of a woman was dealt with in Korea, it was often provocative and sensational like yellow journalism. A woman’s tragedy was also used only as a tool to increase the number of views. When looking at the forest without just looking at the trees, I think we can find the structural causes of repeated killings of women and come up with various measures to decrease this kind of murder. We hope that there will be a lot of this type of article about crimes against minorities.
Also, I think it is meaningful to use various devices to capture the voices of women directly who have experienced gender-based violence as much as possible. I think it’s an example of how an article can interact with society.
The report complied with the Code of Media Ethics. While revealing the horrors of crime in the reporting process, we thought deeply about journalistic ethics on how not to end up with sensational criminal reporting. I think we have also achieved results in proving the truth with data and urging attention through storytelling, toward a society that ignores the clear reality of violence against women, distorts, and encourages debate. In that sense, we are confident that we have created a norm for crime reporting that is useful at any time beyond the theme of Femicide.

Project links: