Court: Lawmaker may not ID teachers in unionA lawmaker who has identified teachers belonging to the progressive Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union on his homepage will be fined 30 million won ($27,025) for each day he continues to post the names on his Web site, the Seoul Southern District Court said yesterday.
The court accepted the union’s injunction against the Grand National Party’s Cho Jeon-hyeok in what has become a pitched battle between parents’right to know the political leanings of their children’s teachers, and the teachers’ right to privacy.
Last Monday, Cho posted the identities of the teachers’ union members, including their names, schools, subjects and the unions to which they belong, on www.educho.com.
Cho’s action was in line with a Seoul Central District Court verdict in March, which dismissed a request by Education Minister Ahn Byong-man to protect the union members’ privacy. But it went against an injunction from the Seoul Southern District Court on April 15 that order the teachers not be named.
“With this decision regarding the injunction filed on the 15th, lawmaker Cho must not reveal the identities of the teachers’ union members through the Internet or the media,” the court ruled yesterday. “If he breaks this rule, he will have to pay 30 million won for each day, to the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union.”
The union has been a sore spot for the ruling party, as it has been accused of holding anti-government protests as well as being found by police to be involved in activities with the opposition Democratic Labor Party.
In Korea, teachers and civil servants aren’t allowed to participate in collective political activities but the teachers’ union argues that their actions are only a form of personal freedom of speech.
In response to yesterday’s ruling, Cho said that as a member of the National Assembly, revealing the teachers’ identities was the proper thing to do and he couldn’t understand why the court accepted the union’s injunction.
Cho said that at present, he has no plan to remove the list of teachers’ names from his homepage, but he will make a final decision after consulting with lawyers.
But the ruling was hailed by the teachers’ union.
“This was a meaningful decision which clearly points out that lawmaker Cho went against the law when he disregarded the court’s ruling,” it said. “We are not trying to deny the parents’ rights to know, but we also feel that personal identity is a privacy issue which should be dealt with utmost caution.”
The union also said that it plans to demand compensation for damages from Cho, for revealing members’ identities through the Internet.
Cho had received the list of teachers who belonged to the union from the Education Ministry after last month’s ruling by the Seoul Central District Court.
Cho Jae-eun, Kim Jeen-kyung [firstname.lastname@example.org]