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Crackdown to Target Illegal Gossip Magazines

Posted October. 07, 2008 03:22,   


Police and prosecutors have begun a crackdown on illegal gossip magazines in the wake of the suicide of leading actress Choi Jin-sil.

“We will focus on cracking down on illegal private magazines that undermine the fame and credibility of celebrities, businessmen and politicians by spreading unconfirmed news and encouraging public uncertainty with baseless rumors,” a police official said.

A police investigation will continue indefinitely into stock brokerages, public relations departments at large conglomerates, and private gatherings that pass on secret information. Police will first collect data from third parties on how the magazines acquire secret information and their distribution channels and prosecute offenders after asking victims if they want to press charges.

“We will get a picture of the current state of illegal private information magazines and confirm if the rumors they spread are true or not,” the official said.

At least 10 groups of people are reportedly engaged in the production and distribution of the magazines. PR employees, lawmakers’ aides, information agency officers and former and current journalists are known to regularly meet in the Seoul business districts of Yeoido and Gwanghwamun to publish the magazines.

Each volume costs between 300,000 (236.40 U.S. dollars) to 500,000 won (394.01 dollars) but the market situation and distribution channels are not clearly known.

Police have cracked down on illegal gossip magazines before. The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in April 2005 nabbed two illegal publications -- Hankyung Research and the CIB Daily -- in a major crackdown. Hankyung reaped 880 million won in profits (693,459 dollars) and CIB 1.34 billion won (1.05 million dollars).

Three people were convicted for libel and defamation. A court ruled that they undermined a company’s image and reaped illegal profits of 320 million won (252,167 dollars) by spreading the false rumor that a mid-size construction company was about to go bankrupt.

Prosecutors will also join the crackdown under the order of Prosecutor-General Lim Chae-jin (photo).

Prosecutors said Lim, who is on a business trip to Ukraine, called his office after learning of Choi’s suicide and ordered strict prosecution of libel cases.

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