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Possession of pro-North songs violates security law: court

All Headlines 12:06 November 08, 2010

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Nov. 8 (Yonhap) -- The Supreme Court has ruled that possession of instrumental music with titles praising North Korea violates the South's National Security Law that bans distribution of material sympathetic to the communist state, court officials said Monday.

The top court upheld the two-year jail term, suspended for four years, given by a lower court to a pro-unification civic activist for storing 14 MP3 music files with titles praising North Korea on an USB storage device.

Prosecutors had indicted the activist, identified only by her last name Song, on charges of keeping the instrumental songs made to praise North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his late father and North Korea founder, Kim Il-sung.

In a ruling, the top court said judging whether the songs "benefit enemies" should be based not only on their overall content but also comprehensive circumstances, such as motivation, gestures made to express the content and the situation at the time the expression was made.

A district court had acquitted Song of the charges, saying the titles alone cannot define the songs as praising North Korea and their intent to threaten democracy. But the higher court acknowledged the songs as "enemy-benefiting expressions" that actively threaten the safety of the Republic of Korea, the official name for South Korea, regardless of their lack of lyrics.

The South Korean Committee for the June 15 Joint Declaration was established in honor of the first inter-Korean summit in 2000. But in July, the top court outlawed the group for its activities promoting pro-Pyongyang propaganda.

South Korea's National Security Law prohibits distributing publications praising the North or unauthorized activities sympathetic to the communist state or contact with its people.


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