Retweeter about North is acquitted

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Retweeter about North is acquitted

A South Korean who retweeted posts praising North Korea has been acquitted of violating the National Security Law, the Supreme Court said yesterday.

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that acquitted Park Jeong-geun, a 26-year-old South Korean man, who was indicted for violating the National Security Law, which prohibits praising North Korea, an enemy of the state.

According to the prosecution, Park followed the Twitter account of Uriminzokkiri, an online website managed by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, which is part of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party. Uriminzokkiri carries anti-South Korea propaganda.

Between December 2010 and December 2011, Park retweeted some posts from the North Korean account, posted links to video clips of North Korean Communist songs, and wrote the lyrics of the songs on his Twitter account, the court said.

At his first trial in November 2012, Park argued the posts were intended as satire “to ridicule the North Korean regime.” But the Suwon District Court in Gyeonggi declared him guilty and gave him a 10-month jail term suspended for a two-year probation period.

The prosecution and first ruling drew critical media attention domestically and from abroad. Some liberal South Korean journalists criticized it as a violation of freedom of expression, especially since Park merely retweeted North Korean posts.

An appeal ruling in August 2013 acquitted Park and admitted he had no intention of praising the Communist state, and on the contrary, was being critical of it.

Park’s own Twitter account is obviously satirical about North Korean and Kim Jong-un, with posts that read: “Did you know our dear leader is a hermaphrodite? People call him ‘mother’ and ‘father,’” and “Our Comrade Kim Jong-un must have learned only how to make chocolate when he was in Switzerland.”

“Praising the North Korean regime, a violation of the National Security Law, is applied [to a suspect] when there is possibility [for him] to commit an evil act harming the existence of the country and public security,” the Supreme Court judges said in their verdict, “But he was not that kind of case.”

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
















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