Man detained for ‘praising’ Kim Jong-il

South Korean Twitter user detained for sarcastic tweet about North Korea’s ex-leader, Kim Jong-il…


Be careful what you say about this man in South Korea © Viajar24h


A South Korean Twitter user, Park Jeong-Geun has been detained since January 11, 2012 for re-tweeting messages such as “Long Live General Kim Jong-Il” on Twitter. Under South Korea’s current National Security Law (NSL), Park could face up to seven years imprisonment.

The NSL was passed 60-years ago in 1948 to protect the country from its wartime enemy, North Korea. It prosecutes those who “praise, disseminate or cooperate with anti-state groups” if such acts endanger democracy and national security.

Amnesty International called for Park’s release yesterday, with Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director saying:

This is not a national security case, it’s a sad case of the South Korean authorities’ complete failure to understand sarcasm,

Park’s arrest is all the more controversial because he and his political party (Socialist Party) have been highly critical of North Korea, and the tweet in question was clearly intended to be humerous. However such a ludicrous charge is not an isolated case. Two months ago Kim Seung-kyu was prosecuted for reposting articles, songs and other available information about North Korea on his blog, while calling the NSL a government attempt to suffocate the people. The materials that he posted are widely accessible in western media.

In the past, the NSL has been used to investigate left-wing activists. Between 2005-2009, there were an average of 58 cases a year. However, Yoon Ji-Hye of the Korean Alliance of Progressive Movements, told NPR in December 2011 that:

since Lee Myung-bak came to power in 2008, the Korean government re-activated the law to investigate not just left-wing activists but also ordinary people who are talking about North Korea online”,

Investigations surged to 91 in 2010 and by 2011 August, there were already 150 cases. Deletion of ‘offending’ web pages has also increased from an annual figure of 1,500 in 2008 to 14,430 in 2009 and 80,449 in 2010.

Written by Oiwan Lam


A version of this article originally appeared at Global Voices Online