News / Asia

Rights Group Criticizes S. Korean Security Law

Park Jun-geun's twitter page @seouldecadencePark Jun-geun's twitter page @seouldecadence
x
Park Jun-geun's twitter page @seouldecadence
Park Jun-geun's twitter page @seouldecadence
Jason Strother
The human rights group Amnesty International says a South Korean law that is meant to stop the spread of pro North Korean propaganda, limits freedom of speech.  Thursday, the rights group released a report condemning the long-standing National Security Law and urging Korean politicians to abolish it.  But, South Korea’s next president will be unlikely to do so.

Park Jung-geun says he is no fan of the North Korean government. But the 24-year-old South Korean was recently found guilty of supporting the Pyongyang government. He says he was only trying to make a joke on the social networking service Twitter

Park (@seouldecadence on Twitter) explains all he did was re-tweet a message that originally came from a pro-North Korean website. He thought the message was funny.  

Last year, Park was arrested for sending that message on the social networking site. He spent 40 days in detention and his computer was seized by the South Korean authorities. A judge in Suwon ruled last week that Park had violated the National Security Law and handed down a suspended 10-month prison sentence.  Park is free now, but faces jail time if he violates the law again.

Park says the National Security Law violates his and many others’ freedom of speech.
He says people should be allowed to express themselves.  And, he says that in particular, provisions of the law that outlaw praising North Korea are being abused by the government.

The human rights group, Amnesty International, agrees. On Thursday, the group used a news conference to release a report that condemns South Korea’s National Security Law.

Amnesty’s South Korea director, Kal Sangdon, says under President Lee Myung-bak’s administration investigations into alleged pro-North Korea activity have been on the rise.

Kal says the National Security Law is being used to limit freedom of expression, especially online.  He says that in 2011, 67,300 posts on message boards were deleted because they were deemed to praise North Korea, or were critical of the United States and/or South Korean governments. That is almost a five-fold increase from just two years earlier.     

Despite the increase in the number of investigations, the number of actual convictions remains relatively low.  According to government statistics, there were 90 police investigations in 2011, but only 19 South Koreans were imprisoned for violating the National Security Law.

Kal says for these reasons, Amnesty believes the law is being used to intimidate individuals and institutions that are critical of Lee Myung-bak’s North Korea policy.

Rajiv Narayan, Amnesty International’s East Asia director, says to prevent further abuses, it is time for the South Korean government to reform the law.

“We are launching this document at a time when a new president will be elected on the 19th of December," Narayan explained. "We are calling on candidates to take a historic decision to support abolition of the National Security Law or fundamentally reform it in line with South Korea’s international obligations and commitments.”

But revoking or limiting the National Security Law is not an issue that concerns most voters.  That is according to Kim Chang-nam, who lectures in the communications department at Seoul’s Sungkonghoe University.

Kim says South Korean people have received anti-Communist education for so long that the National Security Law seems normal.  A politician would not be able to gain more votes by challenging the law during the campaign.

Kim says if conservative candidate Park Geun-hye wins the election, he expects enforcement of the National Security Law to remain the same as under her predecessor. But, he says if the progressive candidate Moon Jae-in wins, there could be some changes.

He says, at best, there is the possibility the law could be modified.  But he does not see it being abandoned

Park Jung-geun, the young man who was found guilty of violating the National Security Law, says from now on he will refrain from saying anything about North Korea on social media.

He says many South Koreans are scared to use Twitter.  And, he says, he has lost interest in it

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid