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Korean court upholds 8-year sentence in drunk driving death of Taiwanese

Court dismisses defendant’s claim his dislodged contact lens caused fatal accident

Man receiving breathalyzer test (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Man receiving breathalyzer test (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A South Korean court on Wednesday (Aug. 25) upheld an eight-year prison sentence given to a Korean man who killed a Taiwanese student while driving under the influence of alcohol in Seoul last year.

The appellate division of the Seoul Central District Court handed down the prison term to the 52-year-old man, surnamed Kim, for hitting and killing 28-year-old Elaine Tseng (曾以琳) while drunk driving in the southern Seoul ward of Gangnam on Nov. 6, according to a CNA report.

The ruling upheld a lower court conviction based on DUI law violations in April.

Tseng, who was a doctoral student studying theology at a university in Seoul, was crossing the road when the driver, ignoring the traffic lights and speed limit, slammed into her, causing her death.

"The bereaved family only wishes for stern and reasonable punishment against the driver and is unwilling to accept any financial reparations or apology," the court said, emphasizing there is no grounds to change the lower court's ruling.

During a lower court hearing, Kim admitted to his crime, but pleaded for leniency, claiming he had difficulty driving at the time because a contact lens he was wearing was momentarily dislodged and his eyesight was poor.

The lower court dismissed his plea and levied a heavier sentence than the six-years prosecutors were seeking, pointing out that Kim had previously been caught drunk driving on two earlier occasions.

After Tseng's death, her parents and a South Korean friend launched a petition on the presidential office website Cheong Wa Dae on Nov. 23, 2020, calling for the maximum sentence for vehicular homicide to be raised. This, they hoped, would ensure the punishment would be severe enough to prevent similar tragedies from occurring.

The petition reached the required 200,000 signatures needed for a government response in just five days.

Updated : 2021-09-29 08:03 GMT+08:00