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South Korean Blogger Freed

Some fascinating news coming from the New York Times earlier this week that the massively popular Korean blogger Park Dae-sung has been freed from jail after a court acquitted him on all charges brought by government prosecutors, who claimed that the statements on his blog “undermined the financial markets.”

The Dae-sung case has huge free speech implications. As the Times article describes the situation,

In July and December, Mr. Park wrote that the government had banned financial firms and major corporations from buying dollars in an effort to arrest the fall of the South Korean currency, the won — a statement the court said on Monday had been false but not criminal.

Prosecutors had demanded an 18-month sentence for Mr. Park, accusing him of “blatantly stoking fears among the people” in an economic crisis. Quoting from his writing, they accused Mr. Park, who often used satire, of advising people to hoard daily necessities in anticipation of runaway inflation and to “send children to orphanages.”

Due to the extensive penetration of networked technologies among its citizens, South Korea continues to be a dramatic experiment in the complex, evolving relationship of the Internet, government and the public sphere. This is not the first time that these elements have tangled: some of you may remember last year’s June riots coordinated and driven by web protestors, and the large role that the community news site OhmyNews played in the 2002 election.

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