[Letter to the editor]Korea’s libel laws punish the victimA good measure of a law’s effectiveness is to ask yourself, “Who does it help and who does it target?”
Evaluating Korea’s libel laws makes it very clear that they offer protection to those who should be targeted and target those who need protection.
Korea’s libel laws often place a higher value on maintaining reputations than on speaking the truth. So who do these sorts of laws protect? A few examples:
1. People like Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn, who, according to your newspaper, could not be immediately identified as a suspect in an assault case “due to Korea’s strict media laws.”
2. Kim’s bodyguard, who is charging a police officer who spoke to the media about the case with libel.
3. A hagwon owner who refused to pay Joe McPherson, an American teacher in Korea, the 6 million won the Korean Labor Board ruled he was owed. When he wrote about it on his blog, ZenKimchi, the owner charged him with criminal libel.
Now look at the above examples and ask yourself, “Who do these laws target?” Members of the media attempting to report an important case, a police officer informing the media about the case and a teacher who was cheated out of his wages.
Good laws protect honest people and punish the corrupt. Korea’s libel laws do the exact opposite and so they need to be changed.
Mike Mackenna, Yongin, Gyeonggi