The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Spy cameras secretly live-streamed 1,600 hotel guests for subscribers. Then police caught on.


Four individuals were booked by authorities in Seoul on Wednesday for live-streaming secretly obtained video feed from dozens of local hotel rooms, South Korean police said.

The Korean Herald reported that since launching in November, the site sold monthly subscriptions, raking in over $6,000. It had more than 4,000 users, 97 of whom paid add-on fees for additional features like video replay.

Authorities discovered the hidden cameras inside TV boxes, wall outlets and hair dryer stands in 42 hotel rooms, the National Police Agency said in a statement obtained by CNN. The mini-recording devices, which filmed approximately 1,600 guests, had been installed in 30 hotels throughout 10 South Korean cities.

According to the Herald, Seoul law enforcement arrested two of the individuals. Under local law, they face up to five years in jail and substantial fines.

At South Korean beaches and swimming pools, a war against tiny spy cameras

South Korea is no stranger to misconduct involving surreptitiously filmed videos; some have even called it an “spy cam epidemic.”

In January, the owner of a local revenge-porn website was sentenced to four years in prison. Wednesday’s news also comes amid a Korean spy-cam sex scandal involving two K-pop celebrities, one who confessed to secretly filming women during sex and circulating the videos to others.

In the past five years, cases of illegal filming in South Korea have skyrocketed by the thousands. There were upward of 6,400 reported incidents in 2017, according to CNN.

Wednesday’s arrest was the first case that involved live-streaming the footage on the Internet.

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