SOUTH KOREA: National Assembly Member Lee Seok-ki and severalothers convicted


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-003-2015
ISSUES: Freedom of expression, Human rights defenders, Rule of law,

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information that in South Korea, there are deep concerns over the so-called ‘insurrection conspiracy charges against National Assembly Member and incumbent lawmaker Lee Seok-ki’ and several others in South Korea, by the Seoul High Court – for which he and several others have been sentenced to 9 years imprisonment based on a recorded remarks he made to his political followers.


The Park Geun-hye administration has arrested seven members of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) including the incumbent member from the National Assembly, Lee Seok-ki in 2013. They have been accused of violating National Security Laws, conspiring insurrection and inciting insurrection through the May 12 Foundation meeting in the same year. However, in August 2014, the Appeal Court acquitted the charge of insurrection conspiracy giving reasons that the existence of ‘RO’ which was alleged to execute the insurrection conspiracy could not be accepted and that no specific act of implementing the insurrection conspiracy took place. The decision made in the Court of Appeal, which is the final court of fact-finding proceedings in the Korean judicial system, can be interpreted that the trial court recognized that the insurrection conspiracy charge was fabricated by the Park Geun-hye administration.

This proves the claim that the National Intelligence Service fabricated the ‘insurrection conspiracy’ case with a view to use it for political purpose though there was no insurrection conspiracy at all.

According to the information received by the AHRC there is also deeply concern over the verdict handed down by the judges in the Court of Appeal. The Court found all 7 defendants in violation of Article 7 of the National Security Law. Furthermore, despite finding no evidence of any insurrection conspiracy, the court accepted charges of theincitementof an insurrection and sentenced heavy penalties to the defendants including nine years imprisonment to Rep. Lee Seok-ki.

The National Security Lawhas been long criticized by the international community including human rights NGOs as an unjust lawand called for its abolishment of or amendment. Amid concerns over the abuse of the National Security Law as completely denying the freedom of expression, the Court accepted charges of violating Article 7 of the National Security Law, as it has done in past precedents. This is an extremely grave situation.

What is even more concerning is that the ‘insurrection incitement’ charges were accepted in the Court.The crime of insurrection incitement is “another National Security Law’ within Korea’s Criminal Act. With regards to insurrection incitement, the court deemed that the accused can be found guilty solely based on what they have said without having to verify whether the risk is present or not. In other terms, ‘anyone who criticizes the government might face the horrific charge of insurrection incitement’. If the Supreme Court finds the accused guilty of insurrection incitement as it stands, the freedom of expression in Korea will be restricted even more severely based not only on the existing National Security Law but also on the unjust provision of the crime of insurrection incitement.


Under the National Security Law alone, freedom of expression in Korea has been gravely undermined, far from being fully guaranteed. The Asian Human Rights Commission expressed its shock and disappointment to seethe possibility that the crime of insurrection incitement in the Criminal Act might restrict the right to freedom of expression once again while the National Security Law, which is the biggest obstacle of human rights development, remains to cause numerous other human rights violations.

Recently, Korea has seen grave retrogrades in civil and political rights. Invaluable achievements in human rights hard earned through blood and sweat of Korean citizens and solidarity efforts by local, region-based and international human rights groups are being dismissed and dismissed too easily.


The Asian Human Rights Commission,would like to emphasize that the Supreme Court’s decision in this case should not become a trigger that allows the government to add the crime of insurrection incitement as a weapon in suppressing the freedom of expression in Korea.

Therefore please write to the President of South Korea, Her Excellency Park Geun-hye to take appropriate action to release lawmaker Lee Seok-ki, and safeguard freedom of expression of all citizens in South Korea.

The AHRC will write a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotionand protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression calling for his interventioninto this matter.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Name of victim:

1. Mr Lee Seok-ki, Member of National Assembly, Republic of Korea

Place of incident: Seoul High Court

Her Excellency Park Geun-hye,
President of the Republic of Korea
Office of the President
The Blue House,
# 1 Sejongno, Jongno-gu,

YourExcellency President Park Geun-hye,

SOUTH KOREA: Regarding the Conviction of a National Assembly Member of the Republic of Korea and several others

I note with concern the conviction of, Lee Seok-ki, a Member of the National Assembly, by the Seoul High Court on a charge of insurrection conspiracy based on recorded remarks he made to his political followers and for which he has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

I will not comment on the merits of the facts presented in this case, which is currently on appeal before Korea’s Supreme Court or interfere in any other way in the internal affairs of the Republic of Korea.  I note, however, that Mr. Lee’s conviction is taking place under the provisions of a highly restrictive National Security Law, established during the pre-1987 era of autocratic military rule that appears to contradict both the Republic of Korea’s international human rights treaty obligations and the nation’s global reputation as a highly successful prosperous democracy.

I urge you to consider this matter from the point of view of adverse impact it will have on the freedom of expression and on the image of the Republic of Korea as a nation committed to honour the international human rights treaty obligations and to protect the basic rights of the people.

Yours sincerely,



1.Her Excellency Park Geun-hye
President of the Republic of Korea
Office of the President
The Blue House # 1 Sejongno, Jongno-gu,

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-003-2015
Countries : South Korea,
Issues : Freedom of expression, Human rights defenders, Rule of law,