Court cautions judge regarding SNS posts

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Court cautions judge regarding SNS posts

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The head of the Seoul Northern District Court issued on Friday a verbal warning against Judge Seo Gi-ho, 41, of the court for posting derogatory words disparaging President Lee Myung-bak on Facebook on Dec. 7.

In reaction to the court’s warning, the judge responded yesterday, this time on his personal Twitter account, that the head of the court was providing “well-meaning remarks.”

He also wrote, “Reporters who are surprised ... an expression of concern is correct, but a warning is an exaggeration.”

Early this month, Seo posted the derogatory words on his Facebook profile as he criticized the Korea Communications Commission’s move to censor postings on social networking services (SNS) .

The head of the Seoul Northern District Court, Park Sam-bong, 55, held a meeting the day after the judge’s controversial posting to hear the opinions of seven other judges.

According to the court, Park expressed to Seo that although the court also respects freedom of expression, when it’s expressed to society, “there can be big social repercussions, thus it is important to be cautious in expression.”

Incheon District Court senior judges who came under fire over the past month for expressing criticism of the ratification of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement via SNS - Choi Eun-bae, 45, and Kim Ha-neul, 43 - were likewise requested to conduct themselves with prudence by the Incheon court’s head, Kim Jong-baek, 56, at a judicial meeting.

A court warning can be issued when a judge’s actions evokes criticism of the court. The judge can be called forth to be warned, but it is not an official disciplinary action by the court.

On Dec. 7, Seo wrote on his Facebook wall, “They say the SNS censorship will begin from today? Let the Korea Communications Commission actively inspect my tweets .?.?. It seems as if the jjol-myeon [a fast-food noodle which is a pun on the word for being scared] menu will gradually disappear at bunsikjib [Korean-style fast-food restaurants].”

The puns used in the judge’s posting are expressions that are often used in “Naneun Ggomsuda (I’m a Petty-Minded Creep),” a popular online talk show which includes political satires and often lampoons the president, and the judge also expressed in his post, “If you order jjol-myeon, you’ll end up eating ‘Mr. President’s’ yeot, (a Korean taffy).” “Eat yeot” is an offensive slur equivalent to “f--- off.”

The judge’s postings were initially available to be viewed only by Facebook friends but were made public over the Internet.

Seo took up Twitter at the beginning of the month. He stated he wanted to show he could become a “social judge,” a judge that can speak on societal affairs.


By Lee Dong-hyun [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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