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Man who mourned NK leader's death gets suspended term

March 18, 2024 - 13:48 By Yoon Min-sik
An image taken from the broadcast by North Korea's state-run Korea Central News Agency shows the April Spring People's Art Festival in Pyongyang, held in commemoration of the 82nd anniversary of Kim Jong-il's birthday, on Feb. 19. (KCNA)

A South Korean man has been sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for one year, for internet posts he made advocating for the dictatorial regime of North Korea, a court said Monday.

Ulsan District Court found the defendant in his 50s guilty of violating the National Security Act, which bans any activities that are seen to be compromising the safety of the state.

"The defendant wrote posts of anti-state sentiments that present a clear threat to the existence of South Korea and its democratic order," the court said in its verdict, saying that the man had intended to threaten the country's democracy by praising the communist country to the north.

The defendant started an online cafe in January 2011 that praised North Korea, writing 26 posts in the following two years that glorified its system and its leaders. When Kim Jong-il, the former leader of the North and current leader Kim Jong-un's father, died in December 2011, he wrote, "I heard the news and it felt like the sky has crumbled. He did not see his country unified. I wish my life, which is like a weed, was taken in his stead."

The Koreas remain technically still at war, since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. Relations with the North are handled by the Ministry of Unification, not by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, since the South Korean Constitution claims the entire Korean Peninsula as its territory and thereby does not formally recognize North Korea as a state.

South Korea's defense white paper refers to North Korea as "the primary enemy." The North similarly defines Seoul as its "undoubted enemy."