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Film Reviews

'Cyber Hell: Exposing an Internet Horror': Netflix's most disturbing documentary

'Cyber Hell: Exposing an Internet Horror'- Choi Jin-Seong
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With the rapid progress in digitalisation, cyber crimes are on the rise. Netflix has perfected the art of creating various harrowing documentaries, some of which deal with shocking cyber crimes, namely The Tinder Swindler and Don’t Fuck With Cats. However, recently, the streamer released a shocking documentary that deals with one of the most disturbing and sickening cases of cyber crime and sexual violence in the history of South Korea, titled Cyber Hell: Exposing an Internet Horror.

The documentary is directed by Choi Jin-Seong and involves various genre elements, including real-time messaging, app navigations and victims uploading blurred photos to make it appear more realistic and unsettling. It revolves around the locally dubbed “The Nth Room”, a shocking sexual abuse scandal in South Korea which was facilitated through encrypted chatrooms on Telegram. Operational from 2018 to 2020, the Nth Room was followed by the Doctor’s Room.

The feature-length documentary details a devastating and horrifying digital crime that was fuelled by digital anonymity where police officials managed to track a network of online sexual offenders who coerced various young girls into sending videos and images of themselves, performing violent and degrading sexual acts. Later, these images were sold to various groups. With almost 260,000 people involved, each paid up to £1,200 to access the non-consensual pornographic images.

This nefarious organisation had a distinct way of finding its victims. They would either access their social media accounts and blackmail them into sending pictures, threatening to reveal private photos to professional and private spheres, or they would recruit them via various job offers. The jobs, meanwhile, would initially require them to partake in seemingly harmless tasks, but things would soon go awry.

Many of the abusers even used location tracking to track down their victims. They would also use the personal information in the job offers to find their victims before filming their sexual assault. However, several men reported these acts to the police which went unheard. That said, due to the public outrage following Electronic Times’ article on the same, the police began a thorough investigation into the matter, thus leading to various changes in Korean legislation as well.

Unlike most other Netflix documentaries where the criminals go unpunished, the biggest names in this sexual abuse case, ‘God God’ and ‘Doctor’ – AKA Cho Joo-bin – were arrested and put behind the bars. While the documentary focuses on the late reaction of the authorities, it also ends on a better note as it does not uphold the complete failure of the justice system. Both the groups relied heavily on a massive team of recruiters and harassers as well as mute spectators who simply subscribed to these child pornography groups.

A disturbing tale of rampant coercion, non-consent and manipulation, the documentary highlights the sexual exploitation that was carried on by sex criminals under the guise of anonymity. It exposes the dark and terrifying reality one lives in and the crimes they are prone to by being active on the Internet. Yet another glaring example of the moral degradation of humanity, it instils in the viewers a fear and wariness about the advanced crimes that perpetrators carry out via technological abuse.

Watch Cyber Hell on Netflix now.