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Experts Split Over Arrest of Web Economic Pundit

Posted January. 12, 2009 07:16,   


Controversy is brewing over the arrest of the 31-year-old Internet pundit, who is known only by his surname Park but better known by his alias “Minerva.”

Experts are split over how to deal with Minerva`s culpability, though most agree that he spread false allegations.

Lee Heon from Lawyers with Citizens: There is no doubt Park spread false rumors to hurt the public interest. Though he is an individual, he is an influential figure among netizens. So he must be held accountable for circulating groundless rumors. Not to infringe on freedom of speech, however, the investigation should focus on whether Park’s arguments were true or false and their effects.

Yoon Seok-min, a communication professor at Seoul National University: Stringent standards must be applied to the Internet because stories circulating online are not confined to the Web. If Minerva said he never expected his writings could create huge ramifications, he must be naïve. One must expect that an online posting can have social ramifications. Park’s arrest shouldn’t be seen as suppression of freedom of speech.

Hyeon Taek-soo, a sociology professor at Korea University: We cannot choose between freedom of expression and social responsibility, but the government went too far by arresting Park. Minerva is not in a position to take responsibility like a representative of a political party or an expert economist. He is just an ordinary person. If an individual is indicted for expressing his or her views critical of society, this will result in silencing the people. They can self-censor what they say and write.

Oh Chang-ik, director of the Citizens Solidarity for Human Rights: Park’s arrest was unnecessary because there is no possibility of flight and destruction of evidence. The act of posting on the Web should not be subject to criminal investigation. The government has made excessive and direct intervention in the Internet by arresting Park. The act of posting on the Internet should be controlled in the market and on the Web.

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