Tuesday, November 28, 2023

South Korea: Poetry will get you jailed.


There are many examples across the world, including the United Kingdom, of the truth of the maxim, 'To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise.’ The latest example comes from South Korea.

They have utilised their National Security Act, against a 68 year old citizen and jailed him for fourteen months. He apparently has previously fallen foul of this Act three times previously.

His heinous crime? Writing a poem, Means of Unification, which praised North Korea. Under the Act this is verboten.

The BBC reports that he said that ‘ if the two Korea's were united under Pyongyang's socialist system, people would get free housing, healthcare and education. Everyone would have a job and fewer people would live in debt and commit suicide.

On the surface this would seem to be the use of a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Free expression is permitted but not if you say something we don’t like.

Lee Yoon-seop would appear to be somewhat of an idealist, but a misguided one in this case. North Korea is, nor ever has been, a socialist society. Enough is known about the conditions the working class have to endure in that country and about its ruler to warrant further comment.

If NK were a socialist society, note, despite what Stalin maintained there cannot be socialism in one country alone, then free housing, healthcare and education would certainly be available to everyone. The suicide rate would, hopefully, be dramatically decreased. There would be no debt because socialism is a money free, wage free society where quality goods and services will be produced for use, not profit. Many jobs which are ‘necessary’ under capitalism, or state capitalism, would no longer be needed.

The North Korean authorities must have liked the positive spin of the poem on their society because it won a NK poetry competition in 2016.

It can easily be surmised that NK has much more stringent National Security Acts and the ‘punishment’ for, shall we say criticising that system, or even praising capitalism, would be much worse than the deprivation of liberty for fourteen months.


Note: the original source for this story quoted the Korea Herald but this writer has been unable to find this item on the Herald’s website.

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