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Constitutional Court upholds ban on 'seditious books' in military

All Headlines 17:44 October 28, 2010

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) -- The Constitutional Court on Thursday justified the military's ban on books labeled seditious, arguing that the prohibition serves to prevent the weakening of soldiers' spirits.

The defense ministry banned 23 books it categorized as subversive for pro-North Korea, anti-capitalism, anti-government or anti-U.S. contents. The list included "Bad Samaritans" by Chang Ha-jun, a Cambridge-educated Korean economist critical of capitalism, "The Global Trap" by Hans-Peter Martin, an Austrian journalist, as well as books about North Korea.

In a 6-3 decision, the Constitutional Court said the intent behind the ban is just and the scope of the ban appropriate as it is "limited to books that seriously undermine the spiritual strength of the soldiers."

A group of seven military judicial officers had petitioned with the court in 2008 to say that the ban violated soldiers' basic rights and was unconstitutional. The officers were later either dismissed or given disciplinary punishment for not following the orders of their superiors and for creating controversy.

Critics charged that the ministry's ban was irrelevant, arguing that some of the books on the list were being taught at universities.


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