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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid