Freedom of Speech issue: South Korean blogger arrested

This story is about a blogger who was recently arrested for what he posted on line. The man’s name is Park, also known as Minerva. He is an unemployed resident of Seoul, South Korea, who studied economics on his own after graduating from a vocational high school and a junior college with a major in information and communication.

(excerpt from) San Francisco Gate

Report: South Korean blogger arrested
By KWANG-TAE KIM, Associated Press Writer
Saturday, January 10, 2009
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) —

A South Korean blogger pleaded not guilty Saturday to charges that he spread false economic information on the Internet, a news report said, in a case that drew heated debate over freedom of speech.

The blogger, identified only by his surname Park, gained prominence among South Koreans because some of his dire predictions about the global economy, including the collapse of Lehman Brothers, later proved to be correct.

Known widely by his pen name “Minerva,” the mythological Greek goddess of wisdom, the 31-year-old Park was accused of spreading false information on an Internet discussion site last month that the government had ordered major financial institutions and trade businesses not to purchase U.S. dollars.

Kim Yong-sang, a judge at the Seoul Central District Court who issued an arrest warrant for Park following Saturday’s court hearing, said the case “affected foreign exchange markets and the nation’s credibility,” Yonhap news agency reported

Park told the judge he wrote articles to help underprivileged people and did not seek any personal financial gain or harm the public interest, Yonhap said…

Lawyers for a Democratic Society, a prominent human rights group, has called for Park’s release and urged the prosecution to stop its investigation.

It is extremely intolerant for the government “to punish those who freely express their opinions and discuss them on the Internet,” the group said Friday.

In a statement, the main opposition Democratic Party expressed disappointment over the arrest and accused the judiciary of paving the way for human rights violations.

If indicted and convicted, Park could be sentenced to up to five years in prison or receive a fine of up to 50 million won ($37,250). Park was transferred to a Seoul detention center after the court issued the warrant, Yonhap said.

2 Responses

  1. What do you expect in a country that requires your Korean social security number for anything you do on Korean websites. You have to enter your Korean SS just to sign up for a Korean Yahoo! email account!

  2. well i guess in US, fraud is not a criminal offence.

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