Five years South Korean jail for blogging?


This video is called Korean Protest Against U.S. Mad Cow Beef.

From Associated Press:

Jan 10, 1:41 PM EST

Report: South Korean blogger arrested

By KWANG-TAE KIM
Associated Press Writer

SEOUL, South Korea — 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.

In about 100 postings on the popular Web site last year, Park criticized the government’s handling of the economy and made predictions, largely negative, on the future. …

His deeply analytical style and sometimes prescient forecasts made Park a star on the Web, earning him the nickname “economic president on the Internet.”

Repeated calls to the court seeking confirmation went unanswered Saturday evening.

It is rare for bloggers to be arrested in South Korea, one of the world’s most wired and tech savvy nations. Critics say the case could undermine freedom of speech on the Internet.

“It is as if control on the Internet started as of today,” a blogger wrote on a bulletin board in Daum Communications, one of South Korea’s popular Web portals after news came of Park’s detention on Wednesday.

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.

Minerva, by the way, was the ancient Roman goddess of wisdom; not the Greek goddess.

USA: Phoenix police raid a blogger: here.

6 thoughts on “Five years South Korean jail for blogging?

  1. Apr 13, 7:34 AM EDT

    18-month sentence sought for SKorean blogger

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Prosecutors demanded an 18-month sentence Monday for a popular South Korean blogger who is accused of spreading false financial information in a case that has ignited a debate about freedom of speech in cyberspace.

    The 30-year-old blogger, a fierce critic of government economic policy, was arrested and indicted in January after he wrote that the government had banned major financial institutions and trade businesses from buying U.S. dollars.

    Prosecutors have said the posting was not only inaccurate, but it had affected the foreign exchange market and undermined the nation’s credibility.

    But opposition parties and critics have claimed the arrest is aimed at silencing criticism of the government and restricts online freedom of speech.

    Seoul District Court spokesman Kwon Tae-young said prosecutors demanded 18 months in prison for the blogger, identified as Park Dae-sung, and the court is scheduled to deliver a verdict on April 20.

    The charge carries up to five years in prison or a fine of up to 50 million won ($38,000).

    The blogger, known by his pen name “Minerva” after the Greek goddess of wisdom, had rocketed to fame after some of his predictions, including the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers, proved to be correct.

    In some 280 postings on bulletin boards on a popular Internet portal last year, he denounced the government’s handling of the economy and made largely negative predictions. His writings were sprinkled with jargon that suggested he was an economic expert, and his identity was a hot topic of discussion in South Korea.

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