[EDITORIALS]Security law shouldn’t interfereThe Seoul District Public Prosecutors Office decided yesterday to drop the charges against novelist Jo Jung-rae and professor Choi Jang-jib, whose works were accused of violating the National Security Law.
It took a long time for the prosecution to render a decision. Mr. Jo’s series of novels, “Taebaeksanmaek,” first came under fire in 1994. Mr. Choi’s works, which covered the conditions and prospects of Korean democracy, fell under suspicion in 1998.
The prosecution said “Taebaeksanmaek” does not benefit the enemy or threaten the foundation of the liberal democratic system of the nation. It said the prosecutors considered the novels’ full content, purpose and artistic characteristics as well as situations described in the series.
Prosecutors said some expressions in the novels somewhat resembled North Korean philosophy, but such expressions were acceptable when they were filtered through the process of public discussion and criticism. The novel, they said, had objective and aesthetic value as an artistic works.
The prosecution said that although Mr. Choi’s work describes the Korea War as a war to liberate the Korean people, it believes his work to be academic research after considering the book’s full contents.
We believe the prosecution made good judgments. But it is open to criticism for its belated handling of the cases. The two cases have remained unresolved for many years. Over the course of the cases, around 10 prosecutors were replaced.
More than 6 million copies of the 10-book series “Taebaeksanmaek” have been sold to date. It was selected as a recommended series for university students.
The Criminal Procedure Act recommends that prosecutors finish investigating a case within three months. How can the prosecution explain the 11-year delay in finishing Mr. Jo’s case?
In Mr. Jo’s case, the prosecution has reviewed the applicability of Article 7 Clause 1 of the National Security Law that allows prosecution of people who praise North Korea. Now, however, both the governing and opposition parties think that clause should be removed.
Indeed, it’s a new era. Of course, those who threaten the existence of the democratic liberal system should be strictly dealt with. But the law should not be applied to creative works. Doing so would harm creative activities.