South Korean Man Gets 14-Month Jail Term Over Poem Praising North Korea

The man said in the poem that free housing, free medical care, and free education would be available if the two Koreas were unified in a North Korean-style socialist system.

South Korean Man Gets 14-Month Jail Term Over Poem Praising North Korea

The poem advocates for the unification of the two Koreas.

A 68-year-old man in South Korea has been sentenced to 14 months in prison for writing a poem praising  North Korea, BBC reported. The Seoul Central District Court handed down the jail term to the man on charges of violating the National Security Act that calls for punishment of anyone ''who praises, incites or propagates an antigovernment organization.''

The poem titled ''Means of Unification'' was published in 2016, in the North's state media, and was one of the winners of a poetry contest. As the name suggests, the poem advocates for the unification of the two Koreas.

The man said in the poem that free housing, free medical care, and free education would be available if the two Koreas were unified in a North Korean-style socialist system. He also argued that in a united Korea, fewer people will take their own lives or live in debt.

The man had previously been indicted for breaching the national security law on a separate occasion and spent 10 months in prison. In 2013, he also posted online comments praising North Korea's military and continued to post anti-state content on South Korean blogs and websites in the following years.

While pronouncing the judgment, a Seoul court said he ''continued to generate and disseminate a considerable amount of propaganda that glorified and praised the North'', the Korea Herald said. As per Reuters, South Korea's top court earlier this year ruled the security law constitutional despite growing calls in recent years for the law to be reviewed on the grounds of free speech. 

Notably, the neighbouring countries are still technically at war since an armistice put an end to fighting in the 1950-1953 Korean War, rather than a peace treaty.

Last week, North Korea said it would deploy new weapons and stronger armed forces to the border with the South, as Seoul's spy agency said Pyongyang had received Russian help to successfully put a military spy satellite into orbit. 

After the launch, Seoul partially suspended a five-year-old military accord and deployed "surveillance and reconnaissance assets" to the border, in what defence chief Shin Won-sik said Thursday was an "essential measure" to defend against the nuclear-armed North's growing threats.

North Korea's defence ministry called Seoul's moves "reckless" and said it would also suspend -- in full -- the deal, saying Pyongyang "will never be bound" by the agreement again and would immediately beef up its own border security.

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