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Man Who Led Newspaper Ad Boycott Sentenced

Posted October. 30, 2009 08:18,   


A court yesterday found guilty a civic group member who led a boycott of corporate advertising in Korea’s three major dailies.

Kim Seong-gyun is a member of the National Campaign for the Rights of Media Consumers, which led a boycott of products made by companies that advertised on The Dong-A Ilbo, Chosun Ilbo and the JoongAng Ilbo.

The Seoul Central District Court sentenced him to 10 months in prison with a two-year stay of execution. The court also cleared a manager of the group, identified only as “Seok,” saying, “Kim masterminded the crime alone and it is hard to see how Seok participated.”

“This pertains to the threat to freedom of decision-making, not legitimate persuasion, as Kim tried to hurt businesses through boycotting advertisers by using the public without mentioning any defect in products. He also glossed over why the advertising ban should not extend to the (left-leaning dailies) Hankyoreh and the Kyunghyang Shinmun.”

The ruling added, “Legitimate activities for the public interest are desirable, but should not go beyond the limit and freedom stipulated by laws. Supreme Court precedents show that persuasion through advertising and appeals can be allowed only when the other party is free to make a decision.”

“Kim’s intention was to force companies to advertise in the Hankyoreh and Kyunghyang Daily rather than stop advertising in major newspapers.”

He is also known to have threatened Kwang Dong Pharmaceutical with a public boycott of its products unless it advertised in the two progressive dailies, after his demand for no advertising in Dong-A, Chosun and JoongAng was rejected.