Seoul, July 22 (Korea Bizwire) - ‘A’, a woman in her 30s, heard some disturbing news from her friends in May 2013. ‘A’ had been going to the annual Boryeong Mud Festival for the previous three years, and her friends told her that her picture was on a poster promoting the festival that featured prominently on the subway. In addition, the picture was uploaded to the Facebook page of Boryeong. In the picture, ‘A’ was sitting on someone’s shoulders, covered in mud.
‘A’ made a vigorous protest against the committee of the festival. She was furious that they used a picture that was recognizable without her consent. The festival committee also sent news releases to the press. The posters were distributed not only on the homepages of the press but also to numerous blogs.
‘A’ filed a suit against the Boryeong metropolitan government, the festival committee, and the photographer at the Namyangju City Court in Uijeongbu, asking for compensation of 20,000,000won.
She lost the first trial, but in the second trial the judge ruled that the defendants should together compensate her with a total of 3,000,000won in damages, explaining that, “As a woman in her early to mid 30s, the distribution of a photo of herself covered in mud could have caused great embarrassment and humiliation”.
The court noted that “Neither the local government nor the committee took actions to protect the rights of ‘A’, such as asking for permission to use the photograph. It is clear that she would have suffered mentally, according to the empirical rule”.
Boryeong’s lawyers argued that their intentions were only to promote public interest by introducing the festival, but the court saw no reason to use a photograph of ‘A’, or ignore procedures to protect portrait rights. Boryeong appealed to Supreme Court, but the case was dismissed this year.
By M.H.Lee (email@example.com)