SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Korea Bizwire) – On Aug. 29, the Seoul Central District Court found a film director and a producer innocent, both of whom were accused of defaming late President Rhee Syngman.
The director and the producer, referred to only as Kim and Choi, created the documentary film “Hundred Years’ War in Korea”.
The film, released online through YouTube and other media in 2012, was made by the Institute for Research in Collaborationist Activities in Korea. It portrayed former presidents Rhee Syngman and Park Chung-hee a very negative light.
The film depicts Rhee, the founding president of South Korea, as an opportunistic, pro-Japanese figure who used the independence movement against Japan for his self-interests, and quotes news reports in the U.S. and CIA records as grounds for such a viewpoint.
This sparked the age-old debate in Korea over Rhee’s legacy, in which conservatives view him as the respected founding father of the country, and liberals as a cunning and ruthless dictator.
Kim and Choi were accused by Rhee’s family for defaming his character in May 2013.
The prosecution sent them to trial as it found factual errors in the film, including a claim that Rhee was allegedly arrested and indicted for violating the Mann Act in San Francisco in 1920.
The Mann Act is a U.S. federal law that makes it illegal for anyone to transport any woman or girl across state lines for prostitution or other immoral purposes.
The jury engaged in a heated, three-hour debate over the charges, but the court cleared the two defendants because the film quoted adequate sources such as the news and historical evidence.
The court also ruled that somewhat exaggerated and aggressive expression should be allowed as free speech and judgement, rather than taking them as the subject of criminal punishment.
By Joey Yoo (firstname.lastname@example.org)