Civil Society Condemn Police Threatening Search and Seizure for Presidential Satire!

by | Feb 27, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Tuesday, February 27, 2024, 11:00 AM | In front of Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (Gyeongbokgung Station)

Please read the Korean original here.

After the Blacklist, Open Net, Citizens’ Alliance for Media Reform, Human Rights Movement Network Breeze, National Media Workers’ Union, Freedom of Information Center, and Jinbonet Progressive Network Center held a press conference in front of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Department at 11:00 a.m. on February 27 to condemn the Seoul Metropolitan Police Department for threatening to conduct search and seizure on a satirical video of the president. On the 26th (yesterday), the Seoul Metropolitan Police Department launched a manhunt for the creator of the Yoon Seok-yul video. On the same day, Seoul Metropolitan Police Commissioner Choi Joo-ho said, “We have secured the ID of the person who uploaded the video,” and said, “We will investigate what specific acts the person did with what intention.” The People’s Power Party’s request to investigate the video as “defamation of the president” was accepted, and Article 82(8) of the Public Offices Election Act (campaigning using deep-fake videos) was applied.

Prior to that, the Telecommunications Review Subcommittee of the Korea Communications Standard Commission (Chairman Ryu Hee-rim) held an extraordinary meeting on March 23 and decided to block access to President Yoon Seok-yeol’s confession of conscience, which is being circulated on social media, by applying Article 8 of the Telecommunications Review Regulations, which states that “information that is likely to significantly harm good morals and other social order shall not be distributed.”

“Before discussing measures to combat the dangers of fake news and deepfakes, the international community warns that the social harm caused by the arbitrary censorship and attacks on the media by the countries that put forward these fake news and deepfakes is even greater and more dangerous,” said Kim Dong-chan, policy chairman of the Citizens’ Alliance for Media Reform, who attended the press conference. “What threatens Korean society now is not the satirical videos of the president or citizens expressing critical opinions, but President Yoon Seok-yeol and the authorities who are baselessly blocking access and suppressing citizens.”

Myung-sook Myung, a senior activist with the Human Rights Movement Network Breeze, said the situation is in direct violation of the UN Human Rights Committee’s General Comment No. 44 on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, issued in 2011. According to her, the general comment calls for no restrictions on freedom of culture and expression and specifically states that all public figures, including those who exercise the highest political power, such as heads of state and heads of government, are subject to legitimate criticism and political opposition. “Stop trying to turn South Korea into a country where people don’t think, but only smile for those in power. Don’t forget that we are human beings who think and express freely,” said Myung-sook.

“As the satirical expressions are self-identified as fictional and contain opinions and evaluations, but do not state any facts about President Yoon Seok-yeol, there is no room for the crime of defamation to be established, and perhaps the police are trying to mobilize public opinion by forcefully applying Article 82.8, ‘Campaigning using deep-fake videos,’ of the recently enacted Public Offices Election Act, as the rationale for the police to actively pursue the case for defaming the president is weak,” said Son Ji-won, a lawyer at Open Net.

“It is truly horrifying and deplorable that the universal expression of a global citizen is subject to raids and searches,” said Jung Yoon-hee, director of After the Blacklist. “The fictionalized ‘President Yun’s Conscience Confession Speech’ is a parody of the desire to live safely and happily,” he said, adding, “Artists who record and reproduce social facts will hold accountable for this investigation to the end.”

Yoon Chang-hyun, chairman of the National Media Workers’ Union, said, “I enjoyed watching President Obama’s event with comedians who satirized and made fun of him,” and quoted Yoon as saying, “Satire is a citizen’s right.” “President Yoon Seok-yeol, who says satire is a right, but investigates and intimidates citizens who exercise their rights, is a third-rate bully and fraudster. Accuse me too and raid my house. Let’s all 50 million people curse and ridicule the president. Investigate all 50 million people,” he said. Furthermore, the target of the investigation should not be the uploader of the video but “the Seoul Police Commissioner, who violated the duty of political neutrality of police officers and deleted the video, and is trying to intervene in the election by mobilizing police forces.”

“The Yoon administration has in fact repeatedly repeated the practice of quickly deleting and hiding information whenever there is any criticism of the regime,” said Kim Jo-eun, an activist with the Information Disclosure Center, pointing to the bribery scandal involving National Security Commissioner Ryu Hee-rim and the blocking of access to relevant data by government agencies after the failed Expo bid. “In no other country does the government directly define ‘this is fake news’ and take the initiative to investigate and punish its creators. Instead of having a fair and objective standard, when the president declares information he doesn’t like to be fake news, it’s an act of power surveillance and suppression of criticism and public opinion,” he said.

Byoung-il Oh, CEO of the Jibonet Progressive Network Center, said it was self-contradictory for the Yoon administration to announce a digital bill of rights in September 2023, as it is repeating the same behavior. “It is necessary to respond immediately to videos that seriously violate human rights, such as deep-fake pornography, and we should seriously discuss how far to regulate deep-fake videos used for election purposes and which ones to protect. However, removing and investigating simple parody videos that criticize the president, such as the Yoon Seok-yeol satire video, is simply a step backwards,” said Mr. Oh.

February 27, 2024

After the Blacklist, Open Net, Citizens’ Alliance for Media Reform, Human Rights Movement Network Breeze, National Media Workers’ Union, Information Disclosure Center, Jibonet Progressive Network Center, Public Power Sensitivity Response Team (Public Interest Human Rights Lawyers’ Group Hope for Human Rights, Fertility and Human Rights Center, Institute for Democracy and Legal Studies, Public Interest Human Rights Defense Center, Human Rights Movement Space Bow, Human Rights Movement Love Room, Progressive Network Center, Catholic Human Rights Commission

Cho Young-soo, External Cooperation and Public Relations Office of the National Media Workers Union

Citizens’ Alliance for Media Reform (Kim Dong-chan, Policy Chair)
Human Rights Movement Network Breeze (Myungsook Myungsook, Senior Activist)
Open Net (Attorney Jiwon Son)
After the Blacklist (Director Jung Yoon-hee)
National Media Workers Union (Chairperson Yoon Chang-hyun)
Freedom of Information Center (Activist Jo Eun Kim)
Jinbonet Progressive Network Center (Byoungil Oh)


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