Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Korean Government Overreach

The Korean government is persecuting a university teacher for "impure lectures" in a misguided attempt at interference that mocks & undermines professional freedoms. Higher education institutions & professors worldwide should vigorously protest Korean government censorship in university education.

Prof. Yoo So-hee (영남대 사회학과 강사였던 유소희; link), was accused of violating Article 85 of the Public Official Election Act. In a Yeungnam University class on "Understanding Contemporary Popular Culture" she reportedly distributed & discussed newspaper clippings, including some that were critical of Park Geun-hye, then a candidate for President of Korea. After Park was elected, Prof. Yoo was charged as a criminal; her students testified she'd not tried to dissuade them from voting for Park Geun-hye, nor had she sought to persuade them to vote for another candidate (link). But she was found guilty. No longer lecturing, she's appealing her conviction.

Meanwhile, the right-wing government of Korean President Park Geun-hye owes it's very existence to orchestrated interference in the democratic process. In late 2013, Korea's National Intelligence Service worked systematically and officially (but secretly) to create massive internet support for presidential hopeful Park Geun-hye, and to vilify and smear her rival. Korea's Cyber Warfare Command, Psychological Warfare Division of the National Intelligence Service, performed shamefully (link). Government operatives should have refused to conduct such blatantly illegal operations, even when commanded by higher-ranked officials. Mass conformity & indifference to injustice weaken Korea.

In Israel, they use hasbara ("explaining"  הַסְבָּרָה in Hebrew) for national goals. Korea has studied hasbara methods, good, bad & ugly. The Korean right-wing has perhaps gone far beyond in underhandedly promoting partisan politics and one favored political party. This is bad news for Korea, where anti-democratic repression by the authoritarian right-wing is ultimately unsustainable. The eventual housecleaning will bring about unwelcome repercussions and dangerous political & economic instability.