Jan. 28 (UPI) -- A South Korean man who was once imprisoned for criticizing dictator Park Chung Hee was found not guilty, according to a local press report.
Television network JTBC reported Tuesday the man with the surname Kim was finally acquitted of charges brought against him in 1972, when South Korea was under martial law.
Seoul's northern district court said in a statement the "declaration of martial law was issued without fulfilling constitutional requirements and violates the basic rights of the people."
Authorities arrested Kim after he allegedly made brief statements critical of Park on Oct. 22, 1972, at a barbershop in northern Seoul.
Kim had said, "President Park will remain in power until unification or until he dies."
The defendant, who was 36 at the time, had also criticized the military.
"In front of the National Assembly, it is unclear whether the martial law forces will shoot the communists or shoot the [South Korean] people."
Kim was charged with violating martial law following the incident, and was sentenced to three years in prison. After appealing the sentence, Kim was sentenced to prison for three months, according to the report.
The verdict was overruled after Kim requested a retrial in March 2019, citing the unconstitutionality of martial law.
Park was assassinated on Oct. 26, 1979. The director of Korea's central intelligence agency, Kim Jae-gyu, was held responsible for the assassination.
The assassination is gaining renewed interest in South Korea following the release of a new film, The Man Standing Next. The movie was No. 1 at the box office over the Lunar New Year holiday weekend, Variety reported Tuesday.
Kim Choong-sik, a former reporter for the Donga Ilbo who wrote the book that was adapted into the hit movie, recently told CBS No Cut News the assassination came at a time when South Korean intelligence officials were becoming increasingly wary of human rights abuses, and criticism from the Carter administration in the United States.