Pastor who visited North gets 5 years

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Pastor who visited North gets 5 years


Han Sang-ryol

A local court yesterday handed down a five-year jail sentence to Han Sang-ryol, a South Korean pastor who was indicted on charges of violating the National Security Law for denouncing the government during an illegal trip to North Korea in June last year.

Judge Kim Yong-dae, who presided over the ruling, said Han’s punishment was inevitable.

“Rev. Han visited North Korea when North and South relations were extremely sour following the sinking of the South Korean navy vessel Cheonan,” Kim said. “Knowing that his remarks praising North Korea would be used as propaganda in the North Korean media, he made remarks sympathetic to North Korea and that are divisive for the Republic of Korea. Therefore, he deserves a heavy sentence.”

Considering the military standoff between the two Koreas, and in respect of the National Security Law, there is a limit to freedom of expression as it relates to North Korea, Judge Kim said.

“The ultimate purpose of the law is to realize a just society,” Judge Kim said. “Justice is common sense. There are concerns that Han’s one-sided critiques of the South Korean government, which disregard the suffering North Koreans, could jeopardize the existence and safety of the Republic of Korea.”

As Judge Kim read the verdict, saying he hopes Han will create legitimate unification campaigns in the future, Han raised his hands and shouted, “Long live peaceful unification!”

During his visit in the North for about 70 days, Pastor Han gave a series of speeches praising the North Korean regime and denouncing the Lee Myung-bak administration.

The court also handed down a suspended jail sentence to Han Chung-mok, co-founder of the Korea Alliance for Progressive Movements, who was indicted in August on charges of initiating a protest calling for the demolition of a statue of U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur in a park in Incheon.

By Kim Mi-ju, Koo Hui-lyung []

Related Korean Article [연합]

'무단방북' 한상렬 목사 징역 5년
'사상ㆍ표현 자유 일정한 범위서만 허용'
한충목 진보연대 공동대표 등도 징역형

서울중앙지법 형사합의21부(김용대 부장판사)는 21일 정부의 승인 없이 방북해 북한을 찬양한 혐의(국가보안법 위반)로 기소된 한상렬 목사에게 징역 5년에 자격정지 5년을 선고했다.

또 북한의 지령을 받아 맥아더 동상 철거 집회 등 반미투쟁을 벌인 혐의로 기소된 한충목 한국진보연대 공동대표와 이 단체 관계자 정모 씨에게는 징역 1년6월에 집행유예 3년과 자격정지 1년6월을, 함께 기소된 최모 씨에게는 징역 10월에 집행유예 2년, 자격정지 10월을 선고했다.

재판부는 "방북 활동이 북한 언론에 보도돼 체제 선전에 활용됐고 이 때문에 남북관계에 적지 않은 파급 효과가 있었던 점을 고려할 때 한 목사의 행위가 반국가단체인 북한을 이롭게 하고 대한민국의 존립과 안전, 자유민주적 기본질서에 실질적 해악을 끼칠 명백한 위험이 있었음을 부정할 수 없다"고 밝혔다.

이어 "맹목적인 비판이나 선입견에서 벗어나 북한을 객관적으로 바라보고 강대국의 부당한 간섭에서 벗어나 민족의 자주적 의사에 따라 통일 문제를 논의할 필요도 있지만, 남북이 군사적으로 대치하고 국가보안법이 효력을 유지하는 현실을 고려하면 사상 및 표현의 자유도 일정한 범위에서만 허용될 수 있다"고 덧붙였다. …
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