Be careful who you’re calling pro-North Korean

In an editorial, the Hankyoreh notes that courts have been ordering parties to pay damages for excessive red-baiting, including the use of terms like “pro-North Korean.” The Hani liked this, considering what they feel is the need to draw a legal line against some conservative groups maligning progressive civic groups as “pro-North Korean forces.”

One of these cases involved a Seoul High Court decision ordering a conservative civic group to pay 45 billion won in damages for parking cars with signs that read “KTEWU, a pro-North Korean group brainwashing children with Juche, get your salary from North Korea!” in front of schools with Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTEWU) teachers. This group had held similar protests in the past.

Another Seoul court ordered another group of conservative school parents to pay 2 billion won in damages for sending letters to 60,000 KTEWU teachers in which they claimed the KTEWU was run by pro-North Korean forces.

The Hani thought the rulings were a stern warning against anachronistic McCarthyism, noting that Cold War-era red-baiting continues as seen in the NLL debate in last year’s presidential election (ahem). It also pointed out that after Liberation and the Korean War, pro-Japanese Koreans hid behind the shield of anti-communism, and the term “commie” became a useful weapon for the pro-Japanese entitled classes. And now, the term “commie” has been resurrected as “pro-North Korean.”

The Hani finishes with some stuff about how democracies need both conservatives and progressives and how radical behavior that fundamentally denies this can threaten the very democratic system.

Marmot’s Note: I don’t need to spell out the ironies here, do I? I’m no fan of Korea’s far, far right, but still…

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Typical prog hypocrisy, I wonder how they will feel when Park starts going after the leftists for smearing her as some kind of Yushin reviver. The Hani is wrong on another point, no society needs progressives, well, not a free society that wants to remain so. Progs are the biggest threat to freedoms.

  • cm

    Look at the stuff the KTU teachers teach the South Korea’s children, are you telling me they are not North Korean sympathizers? It’s against the law to speak the truth.

  • DC Musicfreak

    I hope the DPRK gets the message that being called pro-North is a high insult out in the real world.

  • KWillets

    I like that segue into pro-Japanese entitled classes. Maybe the judge can call offsetting penalties.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    What do KTU teachers teach South Korean children? I don’t know. I’m serious and want to know.

    I see that the poster below wrote, “I wonder how they will feel when Park starts going after the leftists for smearing her as some kind of Yushin reviver.’ The difference of course is that some forms of support for North Korea through some kinds of transmission are crimes in South Korea. I don’t know that calling someone a “Yushin reviver” (or words to that effect) is.

  • bumfromkorea

    What a crock of shit. There is no need to draw the legal line. It’s a really asshole thing to do that shuts down any dialogue (“Oh. Well, you’re just a 빨갱이, then”), and extremely idiotic(“Der… Commie!”), but it shouldn’t be illegal. The “pro-North zombie” line is a tired, severely mentally challenged way the Korean conservatives express themselves, and it ought to die off. But not through a fucking lawsuit.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    I agree, but so long as the ROK criminalizes retweeting DPRK propaganda even as a joke, puts people in prison for satirical websites that purport to support the DPRK, and spies on its own people trying to log onto DPRK sites, there’s going to be an endangering stigma to labeling someone a North sympathizer.

  • bumfromkorea

    True, but I think a better effort by the progressives would be to decriminalize that kind of bullshit rather than put on another layer of bullshit restrictions on free expression. Of course, the Korean conservatives will call that kind of effort “commie” and “pro-North”, but still.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    …and there’s your Catch-22. The progressives cannot decriminalize it, the conservatives have to for the same reason that only Nixon could go to China.