Controversy over ruling on antistate organization

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Controversy over ruling on antistate organization

A minority opinion contradicting a Supreme Court ruling that defined one civic group as an antistate organization for its pro-North Korea activities stirred controversy yesterday.

The top court handed down a ruling in July that outlawed the Committee for the Implementation of the June 15 Declaration, and labeled it as an antistate organization for its activities promoting pro-Pyongyang propaganda and campaigns calling for the withdrawal of the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in the South as a deterrent against the communist state. The committee was established in honor of the first inter-Korean summit in 2000.

The ruling said: “North Korea is still an antistate entity seeking to build a communist society in the South.”

In a minority opinion in the ruling, however, Supreme Court Justice Park Shi-hwan said, “I do not agree with the majority opinion that saw North Korea itself as an antistate organization,” acknowledging it as a nation with its own system.

Regarding the group’s demand for the withdrawal of the U.S. forces, the 57-year-old Park argued “whether or not to positively see the United States’ role and intention falls under individual freedom of expression.”

He also said that it is the role of prosecutors to prove whether North Korea is an antistate organization case by case.

The nation’s national security law prohibits distributing publications praising the North, unauthorized activities sympathetic to the communist state and contact with its people. In Tuesday’s newspaper editorials, major local media outlets raised questions about Park’s qualifications as a Supreme Court justice for his views on North Korea.

“Although a justice who opposes the majority opinion can write his or her opinion in the Supreme Court’s ruling to reflect the minority’s voice, the minority opinion becomes a problem if it is against common sense and shakes the foundation of our society,” said the Chosun Ilbo, the nation’s largest conservative daily, in its Tuesday editorial.

The JoongAng Ilbo’s editorial said: “We are deeply concerned that his lopsided view may influence others who favor the North.”

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