[Major International News & Event] An open forum held to talk about law revision for the punishment of distorting the May 18 Democratic Uprising

To cope with problems of distorting the May 18 Democratic Uprising, the May 18 Memorial Foundation held an open forum for punishing distortion activities of the uprising in the National Assembly Members' Office Building on July 22. Hosted by the May 18 Counter-Distortion Committee, the Minjoo Party, the People’s Party and the Justice Party, the occasion consisted of lectures of criminal law professors and debates of civil groups.

Lecturers were Thomas Sandkuehler of Humboldt University of Berlin; Lee Jae-seung of Konkuk University Law School; and, Kim Jae-yoon of Chonnam National University Law School. The German professor delivered his class titled The Elimination of Nazism and Social Background of Relevant Legislation in Germany. During the speech, he pointed out that the ideas of the Nazi Party were expunged thanks to social consensus and solid and sound education of citizens. He also said that denial of Holocaust and provocation and hatred to certain races are punished in accordance with criminal laws, which is why Nazism and xenophobic crimes of Neo-Nazism are not tolerated in Germany. Professor Lee and Professor Kim, respectively, talked about Punishment on History Distortion and Denial and Freedom of Expression and Directions of Criminal Punishment on Distortion of the May 18 Democracy Uprising. The two Koreans preached that freedom of expression is based on truth, so restriction is not avoidable for the mass distribution of false facts and depreciative activities of basic social values. They also proposed concrete directions in which related laws need to be revised.

For their part, the People’s Party suggested outlines of laws and the Minjoo Party already submitted the revised draft of a related act to the National Assembly. Then, representatives of civil groups came forward to share their expertise on the direction of revision. There were from MINBYUN, Lawyers for a Democratic Society, and Citizens Coalition for Democratic Media among others.

The May 18 Memorial Foundation and its friendly civil society groups think it unacceptable that oftentimes the May 18 Democratic Uprising, a monumental democratic movement in the Korean history, is falsely and bluntly described as a riot provoked by North Korean special forces, and some media outlets and Internet users spread the absurd claim without verification. They believe that criminal punishment is inevitable, if they are to fundamentally address this malicious behavior.