Men acquitted in defamation suit

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Men acquitted in defamation suit


Kim Ou-joon, left, host of a podcast show “Naneun Ggomsuda” and Choo Chin-woo, a reporter for the news magazine SisaIN, come out of the Seoul Central District Court in southern Seoul yesterday after being acquitted by the court. [NEWSIS]

A Seoul court yesterday acquitted a well-known journalist and the host of a liberal podcast program of several charges, which included spreading false and defamatory information about Park Ji-man, the younger brother of President Park Geun-hye, and their father, the late President Park Chung Hee.

Kim Ou-joon, host of the show “Naneun Ggomsuda,” which roughly translate to “I’m a petty-minded creep,” and Choo Chin-woo, a reporter for the news magazine SisaIN, as well as a regular guest on the show, were cleared of all charges by a citizens’ jury.

The jury trial system is used when a defendant asks to be tried by ordinary citizens. However, the jury’s decision is non-binding, and a judge still makes the final ruling. In both cases, the Seoul Central District Court judge sided with the nine-member jury’s not-guilty verdict.

The charges stemmed from a December 2012 article Choo wrote ahead of the presidential election in which he alleged that Park Ji-man was involved in the brutal murder of one of the nephews of Park Chung Hee.

Kim Ou-joon later broadcasted the report on his show, which the prosecution argued affected the presidential campaign.

In the article, Choo referenced the 2011 case in which Park Yong-cheol, the 49-year-old nephew of Park Chung Hee, was found dead on a trail near Mount Bukhan, in central Seoul. Just a few kilometers away, the body of Park Yong-su, 51, another Park nephew, was found hanging from a tree.

According to reports, Park Yong-cheol was stabbed in the face, chest and stomach with a knife. He had also been hit over the head with a blunt weapon. Police recovered a knife and a hammer from the scene. Police also found a note and a car key in Park Yong-su’s pants pocket, and his death was ruled a suicide.

Investigators concluded that, based on the evidence, Park Yong-su had killed Yong-cheol, and then committed suicide. The case was closed in October 2011.

However, in his article, Choo claimed that Park Yong-su had not committed suicide. He argued that Park Ji-man had financial disputes with his family members over the Yookyoung Foundation, a charity started by Park Ji-man’s mother, which linked him to the case.

The prosecution also alleged that Choo had posthumously defamed the late President Park, citing a 2011 publishing party for his book, at which Choo said that Park Chung Hee had left assets for his family now worth more than 10 trillion won ($9 billion).

They also accused both defendants of regularly making defamatory comments about Park Chung Hee on Naneun Ggomsuda.

Choo and Kim were ultimately cleared of all charges.

The prosecution had called for a three-year jail term for Choo and a two-year jail term for Kim. They said they planned to file an appeal.

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