중앙데일리

Roh sues 4 newspapers for reports on land deals

Aug 14,2003
President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday filed a lawsuit asking 3 billion won ($2.5 million) in damages from Representative Kim Moon-soo of the opposition Grand National Party and the publishers of four daily newspapers for “falsely” raising allegations that he had speculated in property.
It is the first time an incumbent president has sued newspapers and a sitting lawmaker. The newspaper defendants are the Chosun, Dong-a, JoongAng and Hankook dailies.
In his petition, the president charged that “Representative Kim Moon-soo continued libel for several months by making baseless and nonfactual claims, which the newspapers reported without the process of verification, thereby greatly damaging [my] honor.”
The president disputed statements by Mr. Moon about the ownership of land in South Gyeongsang province; alleged preferential treatment given a bottled water company owned by Mr. Roh and others; a land sale by Lee Gi-myeong, who used the proceeds to pay off the water company’s debt; possible preferential treatment accorded Roh Geon-pyeong, the president’s elder brother, again in connection with land ownership, and Mr. Roh’s 2002 campaign funds.
Mr. Roh challenged newspaper articles that delved into how he amassed his wealth and raised questions about property speculation.
The president is asking 1 billion won from Mr. Kim and 500 million won from each newspaper.
Earlier this week, the Blue House, in the name of Moon Jae-in, the senior secretary for civil affairs, filed suits challenging articles in five newspapers and monthlies. Among them was reporting by the JoongAng Ilbo and Monthly JoongAng on President Roh’s personnel files.
“Personally, I wonder if the president needed to go that far,” said Lee Geon-haeng, a lawyer with the Hahnbaek Law Office. “Generally, a court will overrule a libel case when the press report, whether true or not, was written for the sake of public interest, and if journalists can suggest that there was rational reason for them to believe that the story was true.”


by Kim Ji-soo


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