A South Korean man in his 40s has been sentenced to over two years in prison for possessing approximately 360 AI-generated child abuse images. This marks the first time in South Korea’s history that a sentence has been handed down in relation to AI-generated explicit imagery. The unnamed man was caught earlier this year with the exploitative images, which were not distributed. Prosecutors successfully argued before the Busan-region court that the country’s definition of “sexually exploitative material” should be expanded to include imagery or descriptions of “virtual humans” engaging in sexual acts. The court agreed with their argument, leading to the sentencing.
While this is the first ruling related to AI-generated explicit imagery in South Korea, the country has previously faced controversies surrounding the use of deepfake technology. At the beginning of 2021, a petition signed by hundreds of thousands of people urged the South Korean government to impose stricter punishments for websites posting deepfake porn featuring celebrities, including minors. The petition arose after manipulated “spycam” photos of a K-pop girl group member were published online. The petition highlighted the serious nature of deepfakes as a sexual crime.
South Korea’s response to the threats posed by AI technology suggests a growing recognition of the need for stricter regulations. This development may have implications for other countries, including the United States, as they grapple with the challenges presented by AI-generated explicit content.