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Former Left-Wing Party Exec. Fined for Libel against Justice Minister

Written: 2023-06-02 16:05:04Updated: 2023-06-02 16:52:28

A former Supreme Council member of the splinter opposition Open Democratic Party has been fined for raising suspicions that justice minister Han Dong-hoon traced bank accounts of the Roh Moo Hyun Foundation.

The Seoul Eastern District Court on Friday slapped a fine of five million won, or some 38-hundred U.S. dollars, on Hwang Hee-seok for libel charges for an appearance on a YouTube channel run by local broadcaster TBS in November 2021.

The court said the remark by the accused, given his occupation and social standing, had a great impact on the public and likely inflicted worse mental duress on the victim.

Explaining the relatively lenient fine, however, the court added that the freedom of expression relating to issues of public interest is an important constitutional right and must be guaranteed.

In the YouTube appearance, Hwang claimed that prosecutors accessed all transaction records of the foundation named after the former president in 2019 and shared that information with a right-leaning cable channel reporter to find dirt on liberal commentator Ryu Si-min, the foundation's former board chairman.

Justice minister Han, who was at the time leading a prosecution unit on violent crimes and anti-corruption, filed a complaint against Hwang with the police in December 2021 insisting he never traced the accounts of Ryu or the foundation.

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