National Security Act (South Korea)

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National Security Act
Hangul국가 보안법
Revised RomanizationGukga Boanbeop
McCune–ReischauerKukka Poanpŏp
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National Security Act
Hangul국가 보안법
Revised RomanizationGukga Boanbeop
McCune–ReischauerKukka Poanpŏp

The National Security Act is a South Korean law with the avowed purpose "to restrict anti-state acts that endanger national security and to protect [the] nation's safety and its people's life and freedom."

In 1948, it made communism illegal; recognition of North Korea as a political entity; organizations advocating the overthrow of the government; the printing, distributing, and ownership of "anti-government" material; and any failure to report such violations by others illegal. It has been reformed and strengthened over the past few decades, with the Anti-communism Law being merged with it during the 1980s.

This law has been acknowledged by some South Korean politicians and activists as a symbol of the anti-communism of South Korea's dictatorial First Republic and a potential restriction on freedom of speech. In 2004, legislators of the then-majority Uri Party made a gesture to annul the law, but failed in the face owing to Grand National Party opposition. Some poll results in 2004-2005 from the media cartel informally dubbed Chojoongdong show that more than half of the Korean people are against the abolition of the act and, so, the dispute continues.[1][2]


The South Korean High Court has a ruling history since 1978 that has classified 1,220 books and print material as "Enemy's Expressions" by force of precedence. Two state-established research institutes decide what books and print materials meet the criteria of "Enemy's Expressions": the Democratic Ideology Institute, established in 1997 under the direct orders of the Chief Prosecutor, and the Public Safety Affairs Institute of the Korea National Police University.

However, since the early 1990s, the Public Prosecutor's Office has chosen not to bring any citizens (or publishers) to the courts for what's deemed by common sense as not risky.[vague] Courts still invoke the law when increasing fines or years in prison for political charges against what the South Korean state deems subversive groups.

Japanese lawyer Suga Matsuyuki has called for the Japanese government to recognize its involvement in North Korean spies in Japan.[3]


During the Lee Myung-bak government, some South Korean military officers were arrested for suspected pro-North Korean or pro-Marxist-Leninist activities.[4]


In 1998, Mr. Ha Young-Joon (하영준), a graduate student at Hanyang University formerly active with the International Socialists movement, was tried and sentenced to 8 months in prison for having summarized and made available online Chris Harman and Alex Callinicos's main writings on South Korea's national BBS network, in violation of NSA Article 7 Clauses 1 and 5.

In 2002, Mr. Lee, a new recruit in the South Korean army, was sentenced to two years in prison for having said, "I think Korean separation is not North Korean but American fault" to fellow soldiers. The Military Prosecutor's Office could not charge him for what he had said, but it searched Mr. Lee's civilian house and found various books and charged him in violation of the NSA under Article 7, Clauses 1 and 5.

Other well-known uses of the National Security act include the 1999 banning of the students' union Hanchongryun and the 2003 spy case against Song Du-yul, a Korean living in Germany. The severest penalty that could be given according to NSL is the death penalty. The best-known example of death penalty is in People's Revolutionary Party Incident.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Chosun Ilbo article - National Security Act: Amendments rather than Abrogation - 57% (in Korean)
  2. ^ The Dong-A Ilbo article (in Korean)
  3. ^ Kim (김), Min-gyeong (민경) (2011-03-15). "재일동포 간첩 조작, 일본정부도 책임". The Hankyeoreh (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  4. ^ Kwak (곽), Jae-hun (재훈) (2011-03-15). "위관급 장교 또 '국보법 위반' 기소…軍 매카시즘 바람". Pressian (in Korean). Retrieved 2012-02-10. 
  5. ^ Lee (이), Ung (웅) (2011-06-12). "`좌익활동 옥살이". Yonhap News (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  6. ^ Na (나), Hwak-jin (확진) (2011-08-18). "`간첩 누명' 구명우씨 24년만에 무죄". Yonhap News (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  7. ^ Na (나), Hwak-jin (확진) (2011-09-23). "재일동포 간첩사건 34년만에 무죄". Yonhap News (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  8. ^ Kim (김), Jeong-hun (정훈) (2011-10-20). "‘간첩 누명’ 납북어부, 27년 만에 무죄". The Kyunghyang Sinmun (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  9. ^ Park (박), Yu-ri (유리) (2011-10-28). "죽은 어부의 절규 … "나는 간첩이 아니다"". Kuki News (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  10. ^ a b Im (임), Sang-hun (상훈) (2011-11-11). ""이 땅에서 빨갱이로 몰려 산다는 것은" 오송회 사건 피해자의 절규". Nocut News (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  11. ^ Sohn (손), Sang-weon (상원) (2011-12-25). "납북어부 간첩사건 연루 2명 재심서 무죄". Yonhap News (in Korean). Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  12. ^ Park (박), Su-jin (수진) (2012-05-22). "대법, 간첩 누명 故변두갑씨 27년만에 무죄 확정". Yonhap News (in Korean). Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  13. ^ "국보법 존속은 인권 후진국 자처하는 것". Journalists Association of Korea (한국기자협회) (in Korean). 2007-05-23. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  14. ^ Chin (진), Na-ri (나리) (2011-08-01). "유시민 "MB정권, 60년 묵은 국보법 악용 또 발동"". Newsface (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  15. ^ Lim, Louisa) (2011-12-01). "In South Korea, Old Law Leads To New Crackdown". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2011-12-03. 
  16. ^ Kwon (권), Min-cheol (민철); Lee Ji-hye (이지혜) (2011-12-03). "美 방송, "MB정부서 매카시즘 공포" 매섭게 비판". Nocut News (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-12-03. 

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