[EDITORIALS]A convicted scholarThe Seoul District Court yesterday handed down a seven-year prison term to Song Du-yul, a Korean-German sociologist indicted for violating the National Security Law. The court dismissed the prosecution’s charge that he led inter-Korean academic seminars that violated the security law, but it confirmed the charge that he worked as a Politburo member of North Korea’s Workers’ Party.
Both the prosecution and Mr. Song’s defense counsel said they would appeal the case and it is likely that heated legal disputes will continue.
Still, yesterday’s court decision is the first judicial judgment in this disputed case, and we believe the decision is important.
The civic group that invited Mr. Song to the country and those who have unreasonably supported him, saying he was a scapegoat of the divided Korean Peninsula, should heed the meaning of the court’s decision.
The court’s guilty verdict for Mr. Song suggests the position an intellectual in a country that has been divided by ideology should take. The court said, “When a coolheaded and just understanding of the reality of the Korean Peninsula was necessary, Mr. Song, hiding his identity, engaged in academic work biased toward North Korea. That worked as an obstacle rather than assistance to a peaceful reunification of the Koreas.”
This verdict suggests that his self-claimed life as a “border rider” between the Koreas is full of hypocrisy and falsehoods.
The court’s remark that Mr. Song has not repented of what he has done is also important. Mr. Song, while being investigated, stated his position a couple of times. Indeed, he once said he would defect from the Workers’ Party.
But he was criticized for still claiming that he lived a balanced intellectual life between the two Koreas, not regretting his wrongdoings. The court explained that it gave him a heavy sentence because he did not tell the truth about his past activities and did not apologize for those activities.
Mr. Song should tell the truth to the appeal court and apologize. This is the road an intellectual who lives in a divided country should take. That is the way Mr. Song could be pardoned.