The punishment is available for those aged over 19 who have committed crimes against children under the age of 16.         — Photo by Reuters

SEOUL: South Korea will this week chemically castrate a man repeatedly convicted of sexually assaulting children in the country's first use of the punishment, an official said Wednesday.

The 45-year-old surnamed Park is due to be released from prison in July after serving a 10-year sentence for the attempted rape of a 10-year-old girl.

He will be given an injection every three months for the next three years to reduce his sexual urges by manipulating his hormones “whether he likes it or not”, justice ministry official Kim Hyung-Yul told AFP.

Park previously served three prison terms for sexually attacking girls under the age of 16 in 1984, 1991 and 1998.

A ministry committee on Monday issued the order authorising chemical castration, the first since legislation authorising the procedure came into force last July, said Kim.

The punishment is available for those aged over 19 who have committed crimes against children under the age of 16.

It was not clear whether Park had agreed to the treatment, but the most serious child sex offences such as his do not require the offender’s consent.

Park will face a jail term or a heavy fine if he refuses the injection or takes other drugs that mitigate its effects, Kim added. He must also receive psychological therapy and wear an electronic anklet, and is banned from entering facilities for children.

South Korea last year became the first Asian country to legalise chemical castration of sex offenders.

The justice ministry said similar treatment was also available in countries including the United States, Germany, Sweden and Norway.

Seoul's move came after widespread public anger about a spate of sexual attacks on minors and perceived weak punishment of offenders.

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