South Korea foundation seeks restitution from right-wing politician

Jee Man-won is being charged with falsifying documents that link activists to North Korea’s military during the 1980 pro-democracy movement in Gwangju.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  March 15, 2016 at 2:24 PM
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SEOUL, March 15 (UPI) -- A South Korean nonprofit is seeking restitution for the public defamation of activists involved in the pro-democracy Gwangju Uprising.

The lawsuit is targeting South Korean politician Jee Man-won, who has in the past been charged with creating falsified documents that connected activists in Gwangju with the North Korean regime in Pyongyang.

A total of five civic organizations, including the May 18 Memorial Foundation, and nine individual plaintiffs, are filing the suit, Yonhap reported.

South Korean Internet publication Newstown is also the target of the lawsuit. According to the plaintiffs, Ji and Newstown had falsely charged the South Korean residents of Gwangju of working as members of the North Korean army's special forces.

Such libel is in violation with a South Korean civil code, and therefore the defendants must pay for damages incurred, the plaintiffs stated.

A court had also ordered both Ji and Newstown to stop publishing all material related to the issue, but the activities have continued, and the information is being circulated on the Internet.

Failure to delete the material should incur a fine of about $80 a day, the plaintiffs said.

Jee had alleged the Gwangju Uprising of May 18, 1980, included the participation of North Korean military personnel. Last August, South Korean priests affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Gwangju sued Jee for defamation and distorting the history of the May 18 pro-democracy movement.

The event was a pro-democracy movement that was violently suppressed 25 years ago by then-President Chun Doo-hwan, and civic groups in South Korea continue to seek restitution for protesters who were wrongfully imprisoned or detained.

South Korean news service News 1 reported the civic groups have also filed a complaint regarding social studies textbooks that misrepresent the Gwangju event, and have requested changes be made.

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