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27 Nov, 2023 16:01

US ally jails poet for praising North Korea

The offending tome had won an online contest in North Korea in 2016
US ally jails poet for praising North Korea

A South Korean writer has been slapped with a prison term for praising North Korea in a poem, the Korea Herald newspaper has reported. Seoul Central District Court handed the 14-month sentence, his fourth such conviction, to the wordsmith on Monday, according to the outlet.

The author, identified by the media as 68-year-old Lee Yoon-seop, was found guilty of violating the National Security Act, which prohibits citizens from glorifying North Korea. 

The poem in question was titled “Means of Unification” and in it Lee urged the two Koreas to reunite under the leadership of the socialist government in Pyongyang.   

According to the poet, in this unified Korean state, all citizens would have a job, as well as free housing, education and health care. There would also be fewer people living in debt or dying by suicide, he suggests. South Korea, a key US ally in the region, has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

Lee submitted his poem to an online contest in North Korea in November 2016 and won a prize. He had also shared his work on South Korean websites, the Korea Herald said.

The apparently harsh 14-month sentence was, the paper explained, due to the fact that the court treated the poet as a repeat offender. Lee had served terms in 2013, 2014 and 2017, ten months in total, for praising North Korea and for posting “anti-state content” online, according to the paper.