January 14, 2009 11:33
The disgraced curator Shin Jeong-ah, who is serving an 18-month prison sentence for forging her academic credentials, left her jail cell in Yeongdeungpo and visited the Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul on Nov. 4 last year.
Shin had filed a lawsuit against the Munhwa Ilbo for publishing nude photos of her and implying that she had used sex to influence powerful figures in the last government. She demanded a correction, as well as W1 billion (US$1=W1,352) in damages. At the trial, Shin vehemently insisted that the photos had been doctored by grafting her face onto another person's nude body, but the Munwha insisted the photos were genuine. The judge had to determine the authenticity of the photographs because the size of the damage payment hinges on whether the photos were real or not.
Shin's visit to the hospital followed a court order to scientifically determine the authenticity of the pictures. The plastic surgery departments at major hospitals are expert at taking detailed photographs of the human body because they need to accurately compare patients' bodies before and after surgery. A photo expert at the hospital took pictures of Shin posing exactly the same way as the woman in the photo published by the Munwha Ilbo.
The expert concluded Shin was now skinnier and less nourished than the one appearing in the photos, making the two seem different. But considering the time difference between the pictures, the woman in the pictures were Shin.
The court also consulted an expert to analyze the original photos submitted by the Munwha Ilbo. The expert said magnified images of the photos using a stereomicroscope showed no signs of tampering, such as unnatural changes in texture or abnormal curves.
As a result, the court ruled that the photos had not been doctored but ordered the Munwha to pay W150 million in damages and to publish a correction since the photos were part of Shin's private life and had little to do with the public's right to know. Because experts had deemed the photos authentic, Shin was awarded a much smaller amount than the W1 billion she sought, according to a court official.
Shin is scheduled to be released from prison this April.
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