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
followedÂ the countryâ€™s official
accountÂ on the social network. Prosecutors alleged the
former journalist, identified only as Lee, was sympathizing with
North Korean leader Kim Jong-unâ€™s communist
kingdom â€”Â an illegal act under South
South Koreaâ€™s controversial National Security LawÂ criminalizes â€œanti-stateâ€ acts and forbids citizens from supporting the North in any context.Â But because Lee didnâ€™t retweet any posts, he was found not guilty of sharing or distributing North Korean contentÂ and was acquitted, The Guardian reports.
But even if his Twitter profile didnâ€™t land him behind bars, his personal blog did. The Korea Times reports Lee was sentenced him to a year in jailÂ anyway for praising the North on his blog years ago.
Human rights groups and other critics have pointed out that these South Korean â€œsecurityâ€ measures are simply a way to censor citizens.Â The National Security LawÂ â€œcontinues 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,â€ argued Amnesty International in a 2012 report.
Tensions are running high again between North and South Korea.
South Korea recently blasted its popular K-pop musicÂ across the border into North Korea, where such fun is prohibited.