A former student accused of carrying pro-North Korea materials in her bag appeared at the Supreme Court yesterday.
The possession of publications praising the North's communist regime is illegal. Kim, now 33, was indicted on charges of carrying a printout containing the word "comradeship", which is illegal under Section 5 of South Korea's National Insecurity Law.
However, in an apparent mishap, the Korea Times printed a report on the case including the banned word, causing an estimated two million more Koreans to be in possession of it.
The National Police Agency say that while some people may not have read the word, it is impossible to know who has or hasn't, so further investigation is required. By cross-referencing a list of newspaper purchasers against lists of individuals who have previously engaged in politically questionable activities, such as attending non-conservative universities, traveling overseas or complaining about chaebol-produced products, an initial group of 40,000 Korea Times readers will be arrested and held for questioning.
Police sources say a further 50,000 people without pre-existing political question-marks on their national insecurity files may have been accidentally exposed to the word "without intent" to overthrow the government, and that the courts are likely to look on these cases more sympathetically, with re-education rather than custodial sentences.
Kim escaped a prison sentence on a technicality, since the Supreme Court decided it couldn't prove that the materials hadn't been placed in her bag by someone else. However, this will not be an excuse available to Korea Times readers who clearly purchased the banned word.
Unintentional holder of pro-NK materials acquitted of charges
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