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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.
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.
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.
On June 12, 2011, the South Korean government officially apologized to the family members of South Korean citizen, Kim Bok-jae who was wrongfully accused of being a spy for North Korea under the NSA.
On August 15, 2011, the South Korean government officially apologized to a 54 year old South Korean citizen, Ku Myeong-u (구명우) who was wrongfully accused of being a spy for North Korea by working in a Chongryon-affiliated company in Japan.
On September 23, 2011, the Seoul High Court officially apologized to Zainichi Koreans Kim Jeong-sa (김정사) and Yoo Seong-sam (유성삼) who were wrongfully accused as spies during the Zainichi Korean Spy Incident.
On October 10, 2011, the Changweon Regional Court formally posthumously apologized to the now-deceased Lee Sang-cheol (이상철) who was a South Korean fisherman who was kidnapped by North Koreans for one year but was wrongfully accused as a spy by the regional prosecutors.
On November 10, 2011, the Supreme Court made a decision that the South Korean government should compensate the 33 individuals who were involved in the Osonghoe Incident (오송회 사건) in 1982.
On December 25, 2011, the Gwangju High Court issued an apology to two South Korean fishermen (one deceased) with the last names of Kim and Lee who were wrongfully accused for being North Korean spies during the fourth and the fifth republic.
On May 22, 2012, the Supreme Court of South Korea issued an apology to the deceased Byen Du-gab (변두갑) who was wrongfully arrested for an alleged spying for a North Korean spy in 1970.
The Journalists Association of Korea made an official statement in 2007 that the National Security Act keeps maintaining South Korea as "a third world country on human rights".