15 July 1996


Three on trial for editing and publishing a youth newsletter

Three people are now on trial in Seoul for publishing and editing
the newsletter of a youth organization. The prosecutors have
recommended that they receive prison terms of up to four years.
International PEN considers the charges against them to be in
violation of their right to freedom of expression.

Hwang Yun-mi (f), a language teacher, Soh Mi-on (f), a nursery
school teacher, and Soh Hyoung-joon were arrested on 28 May 1996.
Soh Hyoung-joon is the President of the youth organization
Nasachong. Soh Mi-on is its Secretary General and Hwang Yun-mi
editor of its newsletter "Jangsan Kotmae". "Jangsan Kotmae" has
been published weekly since 1988 and has published 346 issues. It
reportedly provides news on Nasachong activities, such as cultural
days, events, rallies, family activities, marriage announcements
and other personal notices. However, the 346th issue also included
three items which led to charges being brought under Article 7 of
the National Security Law, which provides up to seven years in
prison for writings seen to "praise," "benefit" or "encourage"
North Korea. The first was an article on the debate surrounding
reunification of the two Koreas, the second one called for the
abolition of the National Security Law and the third was about a
"Pan-national Rally" which has been held annually since 1990.
The three defendants went on trial before the Seoul District Court
on 10 and 11 July 1996. Soh Hyoung-joon and Soh Mi-on are accused
of publishing and distributing the newsletter. Hwang Yun-mi is
charged for her role as editor. Prosecutors are said to have
demanded that Soh Hyoung-joon be given a four-year sentence, and
the verdict is to be announced on 9 August. Soh Mi-on is
threatened with a three-year sentence, with the verdict against
her being announced on 7 August. Hwang Yun-mi's request that she
be given bail is being considered. All three are held in the Seoul
Detention Centre.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to South Korean authorities:

  • expressing concern at the arrest and trial against Soh Mi-on,
    Hwang Yun-mi and Soh Hyoung-joon
  • pointing out that the charges against the three defendants are in
    direct contravention of their right to freedom of expression, as
    guaranteed under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil
    and Political Rights, to which the Republic of Korea is a party
  • urging that the courts take these considerations into account
    when deciding on the verdict, and asking that the three be

    Appeals To

    President Kim Young-sam
    The Blue House
    1 Sejong-no
    Seoul, Republic of Korea
    Fax: + 82 2 770 0253

    Please copy appeals to the originator.

  • Source

    International PEN Writers in Prison Committee
    Brownlow House
    50-51 High Holborn
    London WC1V 6ER
    United Kingdom
    wipc (@) internationalpen.org.uk
    Fax:+44 20 74050339
    South Korea
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