South Korean man jailed over poem

The offensive piece of poetry was the winner of an online competition in North Korea in 2016

A South Korean man has been sentenced to prison for praising North Korea in a poem, the Korea Herald reported. The Seoul Central District Court handed down a 14-month prison sentence to the wordsmith on Monday, according to the outlet.

The author, identified by media as 68-year-old Lee Yeon-seop, was convicted of violating the national security law, which prohibits citizens from glorifying North Korea.

The poem in question was titled “Means for Unification,” in which Lee urged the two Koreas to reunite under the leadership of the socialist government in Pyongyang.

According to the poet, in this unified Korean state, all citizens will have a job, as well as free housing, education and health care. He points out that there will also be fewer people living in debt or dying by suicide. South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

Lee submitted his poem to an online competition in North Korea in November 2016 and won one of the prizes. He also shared his work on South Korean websites, the Korea Herald said.

The newspaper explained that the apparently harsh sentence of 14 months in prison came due to the fact that the court treated the poet as a repeat offender. According to the newspaper, Lee served time in 2013, 2014 and 2017, ten months in total, for praising North Korea and posting “anti-state content” online.

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