As humanity moves toward an ever-more digitalized world, cyber crimes have been on the rise – and been getting worse. As we’ve seen from shows like the The Tinder Swindler and Don’t F*ck With Cats, there are a ton of these abhorrent crimes cropping up and now, making the efforts of Cyber Crime Units more important than they’ve ever been before.
If you’re reading this from the US or UK then the chances are you won’t have heard of this case. But trust me when I say it’ll shock and sicken you to your core. Set deep in the heart of Korea, Cyber Hell descends into the bowels of the internet to deliver a shocking case of online blackmail and sex trafficking.
Dubbed “The Nth Room”, this sexual abuse scandal in Korea was facilitated through the Telegram app for two years from 2018 to 2020. During that time, a ringleader known as “Baksa”, alongside someone known as “Godgod” stalked and coerced dozens of victims to upload nude photos of themselves to chatrooms that sometimes had thousands of people watching take place.
Cyber Hell follows the early days of this crime, picking up with investigators Kim-Wan and Yeon-Seo who dive into this case and try to bring Baksa to justice. As the case gains more traction, several people from JTBC’s Spotlight are also interviewed, along with other investigators, reporters and “Team Flame” who end up becoming an integral part of taking down the ringleaders behind all of this.
I won’t go into specifics on the case because this is one of those documentaries that’s much better going into blind. Directed by Jin-Seong Choi, the movie uses many of the same stylistic ticks that thriller Searching had back in 2018. Text messages are written out in “real-time”; apps are navigated on the fly; emails sent and blurred photos are shown to be uploaded by victims.
This is an incredibly immersive doc, and alongside the usual array of talking head interviews are some animated cutaways to abstractly suggest some of the more grotesque acts that these victims were forced to carry out.
This is a dark and disturbing case, and after the suspects were finally arrested major changes were made in Korean legislation to better protect victims from this sort of thing happening again. But as technology continues to advance and crimes become more sophisticated, there seems to be no end to this cycle of abuse. This is another example of humanity as its worst; a sickening, stomach-churning, shocker of a documentary.