[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Free speech stifledThe following is in response to a horrible court decision recently issued by the Seoul District Court. This judgment inflames me, as I am sure it does many of your readers.
The recent judgment has the potential to set Korea back by more than fifty years.
In this case, the court has found a college student’s parody of certain political figures illegal. Interestingly, this student’s expression of political views has been correctly characterized by an official of the National Election Committee as “political propaganda” created to sway voters in their decision-making ability - a remark that was intended as an indictment.
However, who better to participate in elections than the citizens of a country, who are directly affected by political decisions? This freedom of expression - whether the politicians like it or not ― was guaranteed by the Korean constitution more than half of a century ago, and should supercede poorly formed election laws, which are at the heart of the court’s decision.
Admittedly, there have been problems in Korea regarding election bribery and scandals, but it has become apparent that many of the election laws are restricting freedoms of citizens and politicians alike. Under these laws, a politician can’t even speak to a crowd of voters with- out being accused of trying to illegally influence them. And, a citizen’s criticisms of a politician cannot be put on paper without being fined by a district court. Again I ask, is it not the main goal of a politician to sway voters, and the constitutionally given right of every voter to participate in their democratic government?
Regardless of the hurt feelings of some government officials, it is painfully obvious that this ruling is an affront to every democracy-loving citizen of this country and should be, without question, overturned by the relevant appellate court.
by Daniel Beuke