by WorldTribune Staff, June 7, 2020
South Korean liberal President Moon Jae-In sued the former chairman of a television network for libel and spreading “false facts” for allegedly calling the president a “communist.”
Moon sued Koh Young-Ju, the former chairman of the Foundation of Broadcast Culture, which is the board for Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).
“The frequency and the severity of suppression of freedom of speech is getting more dire as the Moon administration continues,” Dr. Tara O noted in a June 6 analysis for East Asia Research Center.
Tara O cited the May 13 arrest of Sung Sang-Hoon, a journalist who runs the Global Defense News YouTube channel and website.
Sung’s alleged “crime,” Tara O noted, was “saying the Chinese man, who fell over and died in early February in front of a public health clinic (in South Korea), may have died of coronavirus. The suppression of YouTubers and journalists already began under the Moon administration, including demonetizing many of them, but some expect it will get worse, especially since the ruling party has won by a landslide in the April 2020 general election, which is itself a huge controversy in South Korea. While many YouTubers are covering the election fraud issue extensively, the mainstream media hardly prints or broadcasts this issue.”
On Aug. 23, 2018, Koh was found not guilty in South Korean criminal court.
During the appeals process at the Seoul Central District Court on June 2, however, the prosecutor in the case asked for a jail sentence of one and a half years. Sentencing is scheduled for July 9.
In 2013, when Moon was a presidential candidate for the Democratic United Party (DUP), Koh had said “If Moon “is elected president, it’s a matter of time before our country becomes a communist country.” DUP is a predecessor of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (Deobureo Minjoo Party).
In September 2015, Moon sued Koh for libel and damages of ₩100,000,000 ($85,000).
In August 2015, soon after Moon’s election, Koh was forced out with other members of the MBC board by the National Union of Media Workers (under Korea Confederation of Trade Unions or KCTU), which is friendly to Moon and his party, Tara O noted.
On Sept. 28, 2016, Seoul Central District Civil Court Judge Kim Jin-Hwan ordered Koh to pay ₩30,000,000 ($27,000) in compensation to Moon. It was appealed by both sides. On Oct. 15, 2018, Seoul Central District Civil Appeals Court Judge Lee Won-Beom ordered Koh to pay ₩10,000,000 ($9,000).
On Aug. 23, 2018, Seoul Central District Court Judge Kim Kyung-Jin found Koh not guilty.
Subsequently, the prosecutor appealed the case, and asked for jail time for Koh.
“In the early years of his life, Koh Young-Ju was a public security prosecutor for 28 years,” Tara O noted.
In 1981, he investigated the “Burim incident,” which he says was not a democracy movement, but a communist movement.
“In fact, those involved in the Burim case admitted they were communists seeking to bring communism to the Republic of Korea,” Tara O noted.
Those involved in the Burim case told Koh: “We are getting investigated by you now, but soon, communism will be here. Then history will be rewritten and the records will change. When communism arrives, we’ll be the ones judging you.”
Koh said he believes that both former President Rho Moo-Hyun and current President Moon Jae-In, who worked with Rho, should know that “the Burim incident was a communist movement, because as their lawyers, they had to read their documents.”
Tara O noted that Moon admitted that Rho “became radicalized after reading the materials in an interview on May 9, 2008 in a video titled ‘Lawyer who Makes Good Income and Burim Case.’ ”
Moon said at the time: “As their lawyer, [Rho Moo-Hyun] read all their [his clients arrested in the Burim case] books, which were numerous…and I see that [through reading all the books], he had a change of beliefs on his own… After that, [Rho] defended various political cases, participated in underground movements, and directly participated in street protests… Our professors, lawyers… participated a lot with activist organizations. We participated by helping financially from the background and also acting as shields, and defended them in courts when there were cases.”
It was revealed recently that the lawyer who appealed the 1981 Burim incident case in 2014 was Moon Jae-In. “Moon also defended a group of radical students, who, in March 1982, set fire to the U.S. Cultural Center in Busan as an anti-U.S. movement, which killed one student and seriously injured 3 students from the fire,” Tara O noted.
Tara O continued:
A crucial aspect of this criminal defamation case against Koh Young-Ju is how the courts are being used to suppress freedom of speech: A judge issued a 6 month jail sentence, which was commuted to 3 years of probation, for libel to defector and author Lee Je-Seong, who wrote about North Korea’s involvement in the Gwangju Uprising (“5.18” in Korean) in his book Purple Lake. On May 13, 2020, a journalist was arrested for “fake news,” when he said on his YouTube channel that perhaps he [a Chinese man] died of coronavirus, when the man fell over and died suddenly while waiting to be tested for coronavirus in front of a clinic. In another case, journalists Byun Hee-Jai and Hwang Ui-Won were jailed, because they challenged the false “tablet PC” claims that essentially instigated the candlelight protests that impeached sitting president Park Geun-Hye in 2016.
In the case of the journalist Sung, Tara O noted that “none of the major media covered the arrest. The news came from another YouTuber, Dr. Lee Ae-Ran, an escapee from North Korea.”
As Dr. Lee described Sung’s arrest, she stated that the Moon government’s “suppression of patriotic YouTubers has finally become reality.”
The following summarizes her statements:
• Dr. Lee lamented that the Moon government has been labeling conservative YouTubers’ content as “fake news.” In addition, National Assemblyman Kim Moo-Sung of the largest opposition United Future Party also stated on May 11, “from now on, I will fight the conservative YouTubers.” Soon after that, Dr. Lee said, Sung was arrested and taken to jail. The Gyeonggi Province Southern District Police Cyber Investigation team brought the arrest warrant to arrest Sung at his house in the early hours of May 13. He is currently being questioned in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.
• Dr. Lee said, according to Defense Global News, it received a news tip in early February that a Chinese man (Joseon-jeok–ethnic Korean Chinese), who was standing in front of a public clinic, suddenly fell over and died. Early February is when the coronavirus started to come into South Korea. A neighborhood doctor told him that it looks like coronavirus, so go to the public clinic right away. Thus, Sung raised the question: how can someone just fall down and die suddenly? Isn’t it coronavirus? For saying that, the Pyeongtaek City mayor Jeong Jang-Sun, Deobureo Minjoo Party (Democratic Party of Korea,) sued him. Sung asked the case to be transferred to Seoul three times, since it is difficult for him to travel to Suwon, given that the coronavirus is spreading rapidly, but instead, the Gyeonggi police came to arrest him.
• Dr. Lee lamented that the media is under the government’s control, and the largest opposition party, United Future Party, does not criticize the suppression of the media. Thus, she states that even when they hold a press conference at the National Assembly, the reporters at the National Assembly do not cover it; they do something else or fall asleep.
The East Asia Research Center’s list of cases of suppression of free speech and press can be seen here