Students arrested on National Security Act charges

Posted on : 2011-03-24 15:08 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Opposition groups say the arrests have created a police-state atmosphere and will lead to self-censorship

By Ko Na-mu 


The Korean National Police Agency (KNPA) National Security Bureau, which is currently investigating the university student academic group Capitalism Research Society, requested an arrest warrant Wednesday for the group’s first president. The president is a 37-year-old individual identified as Choe, and is being pursued by the KPNA on charges of violating National Security Act proscriptions against praising and encouraging North Korea by forming a group working in the interest of the enemy. Opposition parties vocally protested what they called “fomenting the atmosphere of a police state.”

Police announced Wednesday, “Choe and others, after organizing a pro-enemy group called New Generation Young Communists’ Red Flag in 2006, allegedly established subsidiary organizations in March 2007, including the Capitalism Research Society, with the goal of praising and encouraging North Korea.”

Police explained that the group adopted action guidelines of a character clearly beneficial to the enemy at the Alternative Economy Camp in January 2008, and that it has posted writings of a pro-enemy nature on the Internet on thirty occasions.

On Monday, police released two former group members who were arrested along with Choe, a 35-year-old also identified by the surname Choe and a 24-year-old identified as Ha.

Police conducted searches and seizures Monday on the houses of twelve former representatives and members of the group and confiscated a collection of materials from the Alternative Economy Camp, computer hard disks, and USB devices. They plan to summon all of the suspects subjected to searches and seizures individually for questioning.

Opposition parties were unanimous in their criticism of what they called “fomenting a police state.”

“Applying the National Security Act’s proscription on praising and encouraging the enemy to a public academic group is an act that forces students and citizens to engage in self-censorship,” said minor opposition Democratic Labor Party (DLP) Chairwoman Lee Jung-hee, appearing Wednesday morning on MBC radio “There is a strong likelihood that this will curtail the raising of issues about tuition and other matters by university students and lead things toward a police state situation.”

In a telephone interview a Hankyoreh journalist Wednesday, Lawmaker Baek Won-woo, main opposition Democratic Party (DP) secretary on the National Assembly Public Administration and Security Committee said, “The investigation was designed to form a police state atmosphere, and this represented the recurrence of a bad habit of trying to get through a crisis in the later stages of an administration by using anti-North Korea ideology.”

Baek, Lee, and DP lawmakers Lew Seon-ho and Jeon Hyun-heui went straight to the National Police Agency on Monday, the day the searches and seizures were carried out, and protested the investigation to Commissioner General Cho Hyun-oh, calling it improper. A series of critical statement were issued on Tuesday and Wednesday by the DP leadership, including chairman Sohn Hak-kyu, floor leader Park Jie-won, and supreme council member Chun Jung-bae.

In her radio broadcast, Lee noted that DLP party officials were included among the search and seizure targets and said, “This certainly seems like an attempt to use red-baiting against the opposition.” She reiterated this claim during a protest visit on Tuesday.

But in his meeting with her Tuesday, Cho said that the DLP official happened to be included by chance in the course of the investigation and that no suppression was intended, Lee reported.


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