Amnesty Int. Accuses S. Korea of Stifling Free Speech

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Twenty-four-year-old South Korean Park Jeong-geun’s joke about North Korea could have landed him in a prison cell as the government is increasingly resorting to the country’s anti-North law, which severely hinders South Koreans’ freedom of expression and association, human rights group Amnesty International (AI) said yesterday.

Park was sentenced to 10 months in prison last week by a local South Korean court for circulating hundreds of Internet posts which appeared to sympathize with North Korea’s communist regime. Recognizing part of Park’s claims that the posts were meant to be jokes, the court suspended his prison term for two years.

“I retweeted tweets from a North Korean Twitter account. My intention was to lampoon North Korea’s leaders as a joke,” Park told Amnesty International, according to the human rights group’s two-year investigation into South Korea’s National Security Law.

Park, who was eager to know and express opinions about North Korea, felt as if “my brain belongs to the state” while he had to undergo long and grueling investigations, according to AI.

The 24-year-old was only one of many South Korean Internet users and individuals who unfairly became targets of the South Korean government’s escalated censorship that has been justified under the National Security Law, adopted in 1948 to quell anti-state dissidents sympathizing with the communist North.

Read the rest here: Korea Daily