HUFFINGTON POST
01/21/2016 02:47 pm ET Updated Dec 31, 2016

South Korean Man Acquitted For Following North Korea On Twitter

The 73-year-old still faces jail time for posting pro-North blog posts.
 The South doesn't allow its citizens to support North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's communist kingdom in any context
STR via Getty Images
 The South doesn't allow its citizens to support North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's communist kingdom in any context, and one South Korean man was charged with a crime for just following the North on Twitter.

Following North Korea on Twitter is not a crime, a South Korean court ruled Thursday.

A 73-year-old South Korean man was accused of distributing pro-North Korea propaganda after he followed the country’s official account on the social network. Prosecutors alleged the former journalist, identified only as Lee, was sympathizing with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s communist kingdom ― an illegal act under South Korean law.

South Korea’s controversial National Security Law criminalizes “anti-state” acts and forbids citizens from supporting the North in any context. But because Lee didn’t retweet any posts, he was found not guilty of sharing or distributing North Korean content and was acquitted, The Guardian reports.

But even if his Twitter profile didn’t land him behind bars, his personal blog did. The Korea Times reports Lee was sentenced him to a year in jail anyway for praising the North on his blog years ago.

Human rights groups and other critics have pointed out that these South Korean “security” measures are simply a way to censor citizens. The National Security Law “continues to be used as a tool to attempt to silence dissent, and to harass and arbitrarily prosecute individuals and civil society organizations who are peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, opinion and association,” argued Amnesty International in a 2012 report.

Tensions are running high again between North and South Korea. The North recently claimed it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. While some experts dispute this is actually true, the announcement prompted a fierce response from the nation’s southern neighbor.

Days after the bomb announcement, South Korean President Park Geun-hye urged China to punish North Korea. China is the closest thing to an ally that North Korea has.

“The best partners are those who will hold your hand in difficult times,” she said in a speech. “I do believe China will play a necessary role as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.”

South Korea also blasted its popular K-pop music across the border into North Korea, where such fun is prohibited. 

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