National Security Act (South Korea)
||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Korean Wikipedia. (February 2012)|
|National Security Act|
|Revised Romanization||Gukga Boanbeop|
The National Security Act is a South Korean law with the avowed purpose "to restrict anti-state acts that endanger national security and to protect [the] nation's safety and its people's life and freedom."
In 1948, it made communism illegal; recognition of North Korea as a political entity; organizations advocating the overthrow of the government; the printing, distributing, and ownership of "anti-government" material; and any failure to report such violations by others illegal. It has been reformed and strengthened over the past few decades, with the Anti-communism Law being merged with it during the 1980s.
This law has been acknowledged by some South Korean politicians and activists as a symbol of the anti-communism of South Korea's dictatorial First Republic and a potential restriction on freedom of speech. In 2004, legislators of the then-majority Uri Party made a gesture to annul the law, but failed in the face owing to Grand National Party opposition. Some poll results in 2004-2005 from the media cartel informally dubbed Chojoongdong show that more than half of the Korean people are against the abolition of the act and, so, the dispute continues.
The law has been criticized by human rights organization Amnesty International, who state that 90 people were charged under the law in 2011, increasing by 95.6% between 2008 and 2011. According to its report, the first article of the most widely used clause of the National Security Act is:
Any person who praises, incites or propagates the activities of an antigovernment organization, a member thereof or of the person who has received an order from it, or who acts in concert with it, or propagates or instigates a rebellion against the State, with the knowledge of the fact that it may endanger the existence and security of the State or democratic fundamental order, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than seven years
The South Korean High Court has a ruling history since 1978 that has classified 1,220 books and print material as "Enemy's Expressions" by force of precedence. Two state-established research institutes decide what books and print materials meet the criteria of "Enemy's Expressions": the Democratic Ideology Institute, established in 1997 under the direct orders of the Chief Prosecutor, and the Public Safety Affairs Institute of the Korea National Police University.
However, since the early 1990s, the Public Prosecutor's Office has chosen not to bring any citizens (or publishers) to the courts for what's deemed by common sense as not risky.[vague] Courts still invoke the law when increasing fines or years in prison for political charges against what the South Korean state deems subversive groups.
In 1998, Mr. Ha Young-Joon (하영준), a graduate student at Hanyang University formerly active with the International Socialists movement, was tried and sentenced to 8 months in prison for having summarized and made available online Chris Harman and Alex Callinicos's main writings on South Korea's national BBS network, in violation of NSA Article 7 Clauses 1 and 5.
In 2002, Mr. Lee, a new recruit in the South Korean army, was sentenced to two years in prison for having said, "I think Korean separation is not North Korean but American fault" to fellow soldiers. The Military Prosecutor's Office could not charge him for what he had said, but it searched Mr. Lee's civilian house and found various books and charged him in violation of the NSA under Article 7, Clauses 1 and 5.
Other well-known uses of the National Security act include the 1999 banning of the students' union Hanchongryun and the 2003 spy case against Song Du-yul, a Korean living in Germany. The severest penalty that could be given according to NSL is the death penalty. The best-known example of death penalty is in People's Revolutionary Party Incident.
- On June 12, 2011, the South Korean government officially apologized to the family members of South Korean citizen, Kim Bok-jae who was wrongfully accused of being a spy for North Korea under the NSA.
- On August 15, 2011, the South Korean government officially apologized to a 54 year old South Korean citizen, Ku Myeong-u (구명우) who was wrongfully accused of being a spy for North Korea by working in a Chongryon-affiliated company in Japan.
- On September 23, 2011, the Seoul High Court officially apologized to Zainichi Koreans Kim Jeong-sa (김정사) and Yoo Seong-sam (유성삼) who were wrongfully accused as spies during the Zainichi Korean Spy Incident.
- On October 10, 2011, the Changweon Regional Court formally posthumously apologized to the now-deceased Lee Sang-cheol (이상철) who was a South Korean fisherman who was kidnapped by North Koreans for one year but was wrongfully accused as a spy by the regional prosecutors.
- On November 10, 2011, the Supreme Court made a decision that the South Korean government should compensate the 33 individuals who were involved in the Osonghoe Incident (오송회 사건) in 1982.
- On December 25, 2011, the Gwangju High Court issued an apology to two South Korean fishermen (one deceased) with the last names of Kim and Lee who were wrongfully accused for being North Korean spies during the fourth and the fifth republic.
- On May 22, 2012, the Supreme Court of South Korea issued an apology to the deceased Byeon Du-gab (변두갑) who was wrongfully arrested for an alleged spying for a North Korean spy in 1970.
- The Journalists Association of Korea made an official statement in 2007 that the National Security Act keeps maintaining South Korea as "a third world country on human rights".
- Rhyu Si-min of the People's Participation Party was interviewed by the Pyeonghwa Bangsong (평화방송) radio and criticized the existence of the NSA as "a 60 year old political tool" of public oppression that is used by the Lee Myung-bak government.
- One of the 33 victims of the Osonghoe Incident, Chae Gyu-gu (채규구), said that "the National Security Act must disappear" in order to stop accusing innocent South Korean citizens in the future.
- Louisa Lim of the NPR had posted criticism towards the National Security Act and its broadened usages under the President Lee Myung-bak.
- List of Korea-related topics
- Government of South Korea
- Politics of South Korea
- Division of Korea
- National Intelligence Service (South Korea)
- The Chosun Ilbo article - National Security Act: Amendments rather than Abrogation - 57% (in Korean)
- The Dong-A Ilbo article (in Korean)
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