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[Editorial] Pornography standards in flux

Posted July. 20, 2000 13:43,   


For artistic works, it is very difficult to determine whether they are obscene or not. This is because quite contradictory judgments might come out according to the individuals involved. What`s more, standards of measuring obscenity are changing with the times.

In this regard, difficulties facing the related judicature and prosecution are understandable. The reason is that they are obligated to accommodate social changes involving sexual liberalization on the one hand and to protect public moral and social ethics on the other hand.

Nonetheless, the recent rulings made by the courts and the prosecution with regard to obscene objects are perplexing. A few days ago, the Seoul District Court handed down a verdict recognizing obscenity of the comic series "Myth of Heaven." This ruling runs against the prosecution`s finding that the film "Lies" is not obscene.

These two works drew heated debate over their pornographic character, and in the end, opposite judgments were made for the two similar works with one given a harsh verdict and the other exonerated.

Of course, the two works are different from each other in terms of their genre and characters. One is for children and youth, but the other is for the adults.

But from the standpoint of pornography, the film "Lies" is not free from criticism of obscenity, and public opinion also is not favorable for it. In actuality, many viewers of the movie dubbed it as pornographic, and the pertinent United Nations` agency classified the film as juvenile pornography.

Such confusion is not limited to these examples. Taking adult video movies as an example, there are no clear distinctions between pornographic and artistic works. Some movies are produced merely for pornographic purposes. It is a wonder how such a film was able to pass the screening committee concerned.

Domestic laws prohibit pornography. With the gradual change in sexual consciousness among people, the scope of their accommodating sexual expression in the films is widening, and accordingly criteria for determining obscenity are changing naturally. Yet the problem is that more and more pornographic productions are flourishing under the guise of artistic works.

At one point, the contradictory decisions made by the courts and prosecution of late reflect such a confusion. Now social standards are fluctuating so much as to shake the legal yardstick of the court and the prosecution. It is not easy, as a matter of fact, to rectify this, but what is needed at this juncture is to provide viable criteria for regulating pornographic items.

One of procedures to address this situation is to conduct a wide-ranging opinion survey, as in the case of some advanced countries, to find out what extent the general public can accommodate sexual information. The pertinent screening bodies for grading the films are also required to pass consistent rulings in order to minimize controversies in their aftermath.

At the same time, the parliamentary passage of its pending legislation for installing theaters permitted to screen low-graded movies should be sought.