Article 21 Net CSOs Re-publish the President Satire Video

by | Apr 1, 2024 | Free Speech, Press Release | 0 comments

In firm condemnation and solidarity against the investigation into the satirical video about the president, which gained widespread attention following its release by a TikToker, we share the same video ourselves. 

The government’s abuse of its authority undermines the freedom of expression of Korean citizens by signaling that anyone can be subjected to scrutiny at any time and place.

On April 1st, eight organizations within the Coalition for Freedom of Expression (“Article 21 Net”) shared a video on their online platforms. This video, titled “A Fictionalized President Yoon’s Conscientious Confession,” was blocked on February 21st by the KCSC. It quickly went viral on social media but faced accusations from the ruling party for defaming the President, and was blocked on Meta and TikTok. Currently, the creator of the video and numerous other individuals who posted the video on social media are being investigated by the police.

The creation and distribution of the video falls under the protection of “freedom of expression” as stipulated by Article 21 of the Constitution. Therefore, the KCSC’s decision to block access to the videos, along with the police investigation into the creator and its sharers, represents an overreach of government authority, infringing on citizens’ right to free expression.

In November 2023, the UN Human Rights Committee recommended that the South Korean government decriminalize defamation. Additionally, the Committee expressed concerns about legal actions against individuals criticizing the government or businesses, and lawsuits targeting media outlets by high-ranking and elected officials.

The video should be considered satire, given that a reasonable person would likely not perceive it as a factual representation. Furthermore, a satirical video does not amount to defamation as it conveys an “opinion” rather than presenting a “false fact” about President Yoon. Consequently, the police’s criminal charges and investigation of the creator and those sharing the video for defaming President Yoon should be seen as an anti-democratic effort to silence critical voices against the president and his administration.

We also condemn the KCSC for undermining its autonomy by convening an emergency meeting to ask 11 global platform operators to remove the video, following the police’s demands for its takedown, merely two days later. Since Chairman Ryu Hee-rim assumed office, the KCSC has turned into a censorship body to silence criticism against the government and the ruling party. Additionally, the Election and Broadcasting Review Committee, a subordinate organization of the KCSC, is imposing unprecedented penalties on media outlets.

We urge the 11 global platform operators to resist the KCSC’s demand to remove the videos. The KCSC’s directive relies on a vaguely defined clause about information deemed “harmful for causing societal disruption”, which lacks solid legal grounding. Hence, these platforms are not obliged to adhere to the KCSC’s order. We appeal to these platforms to uphold their users’ freedom of expression guided by their respective terms of service and content policies. 

Above all, we emphasize that our uploading video is not solely a criticism of the police raids but also a condemnation of the misuse of public power – a threat that any Korean citizen could encounter anywhere and at any time. In a show of unwavering solidarity, we, the organizations that disseminated the video and issued the joint press statement, will provide legal support to the creator and others sharing the content, who are now subjected to an unfair investigation. Anyone affected by the police investigation, contact Article 21 Net via email (article21net@naver.com).

Signatories 

Activists group for Human Rights BARAM

Center for Media Responsibility and Human Rights

Cultural Action

Human Rights Movement Space ‘Hwal’

Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet

National Union of Media Workers,

South Korean NGOs Coalition for Law Enforcement Watch

Open Net Korea

People’s Coalition for Media Reform

Post BlackList 

The Center for Freedom of Information

Korean version text here

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