The right-wing South Korean administration of President Lee Myung-bak, which took power in 2008, has stepped up use of the National Security Law to attack freedom of speech. The law, which makes it illegal to praise, sympathize or cooperate with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, has been used by authorities to interrogate more than 150 people and prosecute 60 in 2010. In 2007, 39 people were questioned and 36 charged.
In a further sign of eroding civil liberties, earlier in December a government agency established a team to monitor Facebook and Twitter and smartphone apps to catch citizens who express “illegal” opinions.
One activist, Kim Seung-kyu, was convicted after reposting articles, songs and other publicly available material on his blog in an effort to give a more objective view of North Korea. He received a suspended sentence, which he is appealing. Kim described the National Security Law as a government push “to suffocate the people.” Find more news, commentary and opinion at http://www.liberationnews.org
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