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3 Educational Unionists Fined for Political Activity

Posted February. 05, 2010 08:30,   


Three senior members of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers` Union were found guilty yesterday of violating the law banning teachers from political activity.

The three had made an announcement criticizing the government in June last year.

The ruling by an Incheon court runs counter to that of a Jeonju court Jan. 19 clearing four members of the union who had been indicted on the same charge.

The two conflicting rulings were each the decision of a single judge.

Judge Kwon Seong-su of the Incheon District Court fined the head of the union’s Incheon branch one million won (867 U.S. dollars). He also handed a suspended fine of 500,000 won (433 dollars) to the two other members.

Kwon’s ruling said teachers making public statements on political situations unrelated to education, their perception of government policies, and their requests for policy reform constitute expression of their political opinions.

He urged teachers to be especially more careful in expressing their political views than other government employees, citing the principle of educational neutrality and their significant influence over public school students, whose ability to make sound judgments has yet to mature.

The union’s Incheon branch chief, however, said his fine and the suspended fines of the other two members are technically tantamount to a not guilty ruling.

He said he will appeal because trials on teachers’ opinions on state affairs are a national issue.