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Publication of Kim Il Sung memoir faces opposition in South Korea

Publication of Kim Il Sung memoir faces opposition in South Korea
The memoir of North Korea’s first leader Kim Il Sung is on sale in South Korea, but South Korean activists said the publication runs afoul of the law. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA-EFE

April 27 (UPI) -- A South Korean lawyer is petitioning for a temporary court order against a local publisher that began to sell copies of former North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung's memoir -- a series of books available on the Internet for free.

Do Tae-woo, an attorney for local conservative nonprofit New Paradigm of Korea, said the group has filed a petition for a preliminary injunction against the sale and distribution of all eight volumes of With the Century, MoneyToday reported Tuesday.

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"This book is the equivalent to the Bible, or the scripture of totalitarianism in North Korea," Do said.

Do said NPK seeks to block the sales of the books on the grounds the book violates South Korea's National Security Law.

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"This is not simply a matter of one book," the South Korean lawyer said. "It also is about distributing content that benefits a hostile country. Distribution could, in effect, nullify the National Security Law."

Do also said the book's publication would set a dangerous precedent that could violate South Korea's Constitution. The lawyer said Kim "committed terrible crimes against humanity."

People who claim that blocking the book violates freedom of expression are biased because they also support Seoul's anti-leafleting law, Do said, according to the report.

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Minjok Sarangbang, the South Korean publisher in charge of book sales and distribution, did not attend the court hearing Tuesday.

The company released the eight-volume set April 1, according to Korea JoongAng Daily.

The collection is being sold for about 280,000 won, or $250, through the Korean Publishers Cooperative, a network of 800 local publishers, the report said.

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South Korean police are investigating the publication after receiving a complaint from a civic group. Police want to determine whether the publication of Kim's memoir is a violation of both the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act and the National Security Law.

Some major retailers, including Kyobo Bookstore, have stopped selling the books, according to MoneyToday.

South Korea's unification ministry is distancing itself from the book. On Monday, the ministry said the publication never was officially approved for release.

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