Pro-North Facebook entries face gov’t crackdown

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Pro-North Facebook entries face gov’t crackdown

Spreading North Korean propaganda through social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter will be blocked starting next year, according to yesterday’s Ministry of Justice briefing to President Lee Myung-bak on its 2011 policies.

“This is a measure in response to North Korea’s recent attacks on the South Korean Navy ship Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island, which made the role of national security absolutely important,” said deputy Justice Minister Hwang Hee-chul.

The Justice Ministry’s measure will block South Koreans from accessing social networking-site accounts linked to North Korea. Anyone caught forwarding or reposting content that praises North Korea will be subject to legal punishment, Hwang said.

People spreading malicious rumors or false information concerning national security will also be sternly punished, according to the plan.

The government has already been cracking down on people spreading rumors about national security issues.

On Friday, prosecutors indicted 19 people for sending joke text messages to their friends shortly after North Korea fired artillery shells on Yeonpyeong Island, saying they had to report for military duty. Those messages implied a mobilization of forces that didn’t take place.

The ministry also said it will require foreigners who apply for naturalized Korean citizenship to take an oath saying they recognize South Korea’s liberal democracy.

The ministry also announced a new Web site that the public can use to get information on convicted sexual offenders.

Anyone convicted of molesting a person over the age of 19 will be listed by name, age and address, and a mugshot will be uploaded. The public will have access to the information for 10 years following a convict’s release from prison.

The Web site, www.sexoffender.go.kr, will start posting that information in April.

Information about sex offenders of children and adolescents have been available on the site since July.

To crack down on sexual abuse of children, the Justice Ministry will establish an investigation team at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in September next year that will handle such crimes against both children and women. The ministry will introduce a new system to appoint attorneys for child victims of sex crimes.

Measures to safeguard children and women from sex crimes were sparked by a string of recent rapes of young girls.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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