Free speech advocate gets ten months behind bars for posting online?
This sounds close to ridiculous in a democracy like South Korea. However, Park Jung-geun, a South Korean photographer and a supporter of free speech, suffered this exact fate recently. He is accused of supporting North Korea, an act that is illegal under the National Security Law.
After the death of Kim Jong-il, Park “re-tweeted” pro-North Korean posts that he found on a North Korean Twitter page. However, he also made a parody of a North Korean propaganda poster, making the soldier in the poster look more like some depressed alcoholic than a fearless soldier determined to invade South Korea and spread communism.
Shin Jin-woo, who presided over the case, recognized some of the tweets as satire, but still ruled that Park was guilty of sympathizing with North Korea. Park’s sentence was suspended only because he swore to the court he would not make any more posts of that nature.
This situation has obviously caused concern among citizens of South Korea, as well as supporters of free speech around the world. We are all left to wonder if South Korea actually supports freedom of speech, like it so often claims it does.