October 28, 2004 19:32
An appeals court reconfirmed that a Chosun Ilbo special report on the murder of 10-year-old Lee Seung-bok and four family members by North Korean commandos on Dec. 9, 1968 after the boy said, "I hate the Communist Party," did, in fact, take place. This means the Chosun Ilbo's report on the incident was historical fact, and rumors that the incident was a fabrication were lies.
Since rumors of a fabrication first popped up in 1992, however, the mistaken understanding that Lee Seung-bok was a fictional character created by the Chosun Ilbo or military government has spread among certain segments of our society, giving rise to terrible evils like the removal of Lee's statues or insults hurled at surviving members of his family.
Seoul Central District Court sentenced the former general secretary of the People's Coalition for Media Reform, 50-year-old Kim Ju-eon (currently a research director with the Korea Press Foundation) to 6-month prison term with 2 years probation for "spreading false facts" after he included the Dec. 11, 1968 Chosun report, entitled, "I Don't Like the Communist Party. A Young Mouth of Resistance Torn," in an "Exhibition of Misreporting" and called it a lie.
The court said in its decision that when it comprehensively considered a) the testimony of Lee's elder brother, who said the his family was killed after a North Korean commando asked, "Do you like North Korea or South Korea," to which Lee replied, "I hate the Communist Party," and identical testimony from neighbors like Choi Sun-ok, Seo Ok-ja, Choi Sun-nyeo and Yu Gyeong-sang; and b) photographs revealed that of all the bodies, only Lee's mouth was torn, it judged that it was true that Lee had told the North Korean commandos he had hated the Communist Party.
The court then said, "Putting together the 15 negatives from photos taken at the scene of the murder that have been kept by the Chosun Ilbo, the existence of a phone call with the Daegwallyeong Ranch from where the original article was sent and concrete testimony from Chosun Ilbo reporters from that period, we judge that Chosun Ilbo reporters Kang In-won and Roh Hyeong-ok directly went to the scene of the incident on Dec. 10, 1968 to cover and report what had happened."
The court decided, "Accordingly, the claims made by the defendants of 'concoctions, fabrications, misreporting, a novel, and the Chosun Ilbo reporters weren't there' fall under the designation of false facts." Prosecutors charged Kim with defamation in July 1999. In September of 2002, he was found guilty and was sentenced to 6-months in prison.
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