Discussion on the Internet is violation of National Security Law?
- Prosecution of Jeon Ji-Yoon is unjust!
Source :  Jinbo in Progress #4 [Jinbonet Newsletter]
On May 3rd, prosecutors charged Jeon Ji-Yoon, a Sungkonhoe University student and a member of “Dahamkke,” the Democratic Labor Party’s student committee, for violation of the National Security Law (NSL). According to prosecutors, this violation stemmed from statements made by Jeon on an internet bulletin board. Jeon has been in prison since May 7th.
Joint Committee against the Government Internet Censorship was shocked to hear that the prosecution decided to apply the NSL to online discussions. We flatly denounce this action.
In a written arraignment, prosecution pointed to seven separate discussions involving Jeon that took place on the open community bulletin board of the Democratic Labor Party’s student committee. Contents of the discussions included whether labor and students should take part in an anti-Chosun newspaper (a conservative newspaper) movement, abolish the NSL, and force the U.S. military to withdraw from South Korea. Here is one entry in regards to the Korean economy: “The ship of the Korean economy sank because of an inefficient captain and corrupted passengers. But the inefficient captain forced the sailors to share the pain. When the sailors control the ship democratically, we can avoid sinking. The power to change the world can only happen by the action of workers.”
First and foremost, the contents of the online discussions have already been made public. For example, the anti-Chosun newspaper movement is well-known. Prosecutors also pointed to Jeon’s review of a book on Marxism, but the Marxist book, once prohibited, is now legally selling in bookstores without any problems. Therefore, the prosecution’s charges are an obvious anachronism.
Prosecutors applied sub-section 1, section 7 of the NSL to Jeon’s online discussions. According to this notorious section, Jeon is accused of distributing his words in the hopes of agitating the public fully knowing that this may destroy the safety and democracy of South Korea.
However, freedom of thought and expression are fundamental rights of the people. The Human Rights Commission of the United Nations makes it clear that when a state sacrifices freedom of expression for its security, the restriction should be limited only to potentially-fatal cases which can cause a political and/or military threat.
The consequences of the prosecution’s assertion that an individual’s online postings can threaten the security of the state may lead to an increased surveillance and censorship of all political opinions. Censorship on the internet of this sort will eventually wither away freedom of ideology and expression.
We emphatically denounce the prosecution’s decision to apply the National Security Law to online discussions, and we strongly reassert Jeon’s innocence. We hope the courts will fairly judge the matter.
June 18th, 2002.
The Joint Committee against the Government Internet Censorship
2002 / -0 / 8-