Bookstore hit with Nat'l Security Law

Posted on : 2007-05-04 16:50 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST

Police raided the offices of an internet book seller that had been selling the North Korean novel Ggot Paneun Cheonyeo ("The Flower Girl") and South Korean publications that circulated mostly underground in the South's universities during the 1980s, when pro-democracy campaigns prevailed across the nation against the dictatorship of then general-turned-president Chun Doo-hwan, and arrested the bookstore's chief executive on charges of violating the National Security Law.

The Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency arrested the 52-year-old individual, who is only identified as a surname Kim, on May 1 and sought an arrest warrant against him on May 3 on charges of possessing and selling "publications advantageous to the enemy" under the notorious National Security Law. Police said Kim violated the National Security Law by selling the publications such as The Flower Girl and The Sea of People ("Minjungui Bada"), which hail North Korean regime and emphasize a social revolutionary ideology, via the Internet.

On April 30, police searched the Internet bookstore's offices and seized computer hard drives and about 200 books with classic 80's titles such as "Rethinking the Time Around Liberalization" (Haebang jeonhusaui Insik), "Philosophy Essay" (Cheorhak Essay), "Jeju Civic Uprising" (Jeju Minjung Hangjaeng) and "Russia Revolution" (Russia Hyeongmyeong). In addition, police said, "Discussions are underway with prosecutors on whether to apply charges against people who have purchased the books, too, after analyzing computer hard drives."

However, Kim rebuked police for applying the charges, saying, "I just resold books that could buy at any secondhand bookstore via the Internet. It's unacceptable that police applied the charges to me because I sold ordinary North Korean books."

Kim Seung-gyo, an attorney at a law firm Justice & Peace Law Group said, "Already, more than 90 percent of lawmakers support a move to scale down the categories of "publications advantageous to the enemy." It's nonsense that the police are trying to punish a person who just bought and sold books that were considered pro-North Korean more than a decade ago."

"If he doesn't exploit the book as an agitation tool to hail or advertise North Korea, it is an overzealous move by the police," he said.

The Flower Girl depicts an ordeal by a family whose members were forced to serve as slaves at a landlord's house because of a small debt incurred during the colonization era (1910-1945) by the Japanese Imperial government. The Sea of People features a housewife who became an anti-Japanese activist and encouraged her children to fight against the Japanese Imperial military forces after her husband was killed by Japanese soldiers in battle. Both were made into movies, and most South Koreans know of the works because they are performed as operatic dramas for visiting South Korean dignitaries who go to Pyongyang.

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