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Korean Government Sues Activist
Top activist lawyer says it's an honor to be charged with libel
OhmyNews (internews)     Print Article 
Published 2009-09-17 14:33 (KST)   
Park Won-soon, executive director of the Hope Institute, recently described his feelings on his website wonsoondotcom, on being charged 200 million won for damages from the National Intelligence Agency ("NIA") last September 14.

Park Won-soon
©2009 OhmyNews, Nam So-yeon
Director Park Won-soon wrote on Tuesday evening that it was "an honor to be charged with 200 million won by the NIA" and that he was "very happy to be with people who are suffering at this time."

He wrote, "I heard news of the libel suit from journalists as I was visiting the US due to a request by Professor Baik Nak-chung who thought that civil society groups shouldn't just stand by while the Korean government is destroying North-South relations." Park added that the news was like "being struck by lightning."

Furthermore he wrote, "the NIA has been meeting with all sorts of companies, organizations and NGOs, conducting investigations on me." "There have been innumerable instances of pressure on me to to quit because of corporate sponsorship to the foundation."

Director Park also revealed examples of NGOs threatened by the government. Former WorldVision Chairperson, Oh Jae-sik lost 140 million won of promised-funding from the Ministry of Health and Welfare. A citizen broadcasting show that featured Seoul National Emeritus Professor Baik Nak-chung was promised sponsorship from SkyLife but at the end, it received a strange note from the corporation saying that they "decided independently not to support" the program.

In his message, Director Park wondered why SkyLife felt the need to emphasize the "independent" nature of their decision to cancel their sponsorship.

Above all, Director Park said, "Our laws forbids certain types of investigations and punish them." He deplored, "Should our elected government allow people who deserve punishment themselves to punish people who criticize them?"

Park Won-soon, director of Hope Institute describes his feelings regarding the recent NIA lawsuit on his website wonsoondotcom.
©2009 Park Won-soon

In addition, Father Song Kyung-yong wrote a letter to his website when he heard the news of Director Park Won-soon's lawsuit. Father Song wrote, "It is a matter of fact that when one embraces and accepts their critics and opponents, one becomes stronger and bigger. But it seems they [government] are afraid of that." He emphasized, "It must be difficult to deal with such silly and ignorant people through a lawsuit but I hope it becomes an opportunity to let them know that power doesn't mean you can do anything you want want to do."

Responding to Father Song's message, Director Park said, "when I first heard of the lawsuit by the NIA, I did feel some distress and fear." He continued, "I suddenly thought of President Roh Moo-hyun and wondered if it would be possible for the truth to communicated and proven, but I regained my courage and carried on."

Director Park Won-soon held a press conference on the morning of September 17 at the Hope Institute, located in Pyeongchang-dong in Seoul.
©2009 OhmyNews
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