Parents of woman killed by drunk driver in Seoul call for harsher penalties

11/25/2020 09:39 PM
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Elaine Tseng (left) and her father Tseng Kin-fui. Photo courtesy of Tseng Kin-fui
Elaine Tseng (left) and her father Tseng Kin-fui. Photo courtesy of Tseng Kin-fui

Taipei, Nov. 25 (CNA) The parents of a 28-year-old woman who was killed earlier this month by a drunk driver in Seoul are calling for the South Korean government to introduce harsher penalties for those who drive under the influence.

The woman, Elaine Tseng (曾以琳), was a PhD student at Torch Trinity Graduate University in the capital city. On Nov. 6, she was hit and killed by a drunk driver who ran a red light, when walking home from a professor's home.

Distraught, her parents and a South Korean friend of Elaine's have launched a petition on the presidential office website Cheong Wa Dae, calling for harsher penalties for people driving under the influence of alcohol.

In the petition, Elaine's friend describes her as a person who worked hard to realize her goals, despite encountering difficulties living abroad.

"She has been robbed of the endless opportunities and dreams she could have enjoyed, and has gone to a place from which she will never return," her friend said.

The petition describes driving under the influence as "premeditated murder," and says that as such it should be punished more harshly than other crimes.

"These accidents can happen to people of all nationalities, ages and genders ... We hope that with harsher penalties, these tragedies will never happen again," the petition said.

In South Korea, after an Army conscript who was killed by a drunk driver in 2018, the government adopted tougher penalties, raising the sentence for those convicted of drunk driving.

Previously, a drunk driving accident that resulted in death was punishable by a prison term of at least one year, but it is now three years to life.

Although the punishment is harsher than the three to 10 years in prison for the same crime in Taiwan, Tseng's parents told CNA on Wednesday that after looking at numerous court cases, they concluded that judges in South Korea typically hand down more lenient sentences than their counterparts in Taiwan.

Tseng's father Tseng Kin-fui (曾慶暉), an anesthesiologist at the Ministry of Health and Welfare's Chiayi Hospital, said that in order to ensure the punishment is severe enough to prevent more tragedies from occurring, they launched the petition and have written to South Korean officials on the matter.

The couple were very close with their daughter and spoke on the phone every single day. It is their earnest wish that their daughter's death can help prevent the death of others, they said.

Petitions submitted on the presidential office website are signed using a social media account. The South Korea government is required to respond to a petition that collects 200,000 signatures or more within 30 days.

As the petition was launched on Nov. 23, it has until Dec. 23 to reach that goal. As of 8 p.m., over 66,000 people had signed the petition.

(By Chiang I-ching, Liao Yu-yang, and Chiang Yi-ching)


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