North Korea defector denies defamation charges in Gwangju Uprising

A North Korean defector in the South defended his claims regarding former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung (C) in a South Korean court on Friday. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Jan. 4 (UPI) — A North Korean defector who has been charged with defaming former President Kim Dae-jung denied the allegations relating to the historic Gwangju Uprising, which will mark its 40th anniversary in 2020.

Lee Joo-sung, a defector who has claimed the former South Korean leader was in alliance with past dictator Kim Il Sung during the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement on a South Korean YouTube channel, said his claims are “all true” during a court appearance, Newsis reported Friday.

Lee’s defense attorney told Judge Jin Jae-kyung of the Seoul western district court the defamation charges do not apply to his client, according to the report.

“There are many reasons for not acknowledging the charges,” Lee’s attorney said. “We do think it is true North Korean troops traveled to the South on May 18.”

Kim Dae-jung died in 2009, and held a landmark summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Il during his presidency.

Right-wing pundits in South Korea have previously made claims regarding North Korean intervention in Gwangju in 1980.

Many of the commentators have an established presence on YouTube, where they have been promoting theories of pro-communist collaboration among South Korean protesters at the time, South Korean television network SBS reported Friday.

Ko Sun-hee, a South Korean woman who was widowed during the uprising, told SBS members of a privileged elite class are making the claims.

“They exploit others so their children are better off,” Ko said. “How could they be so shameless.”

During the nine-day uprising, South Korea’s military junta beat and sometimes killed citizens, murdering 200 people and wounding another 1,800, according to South Korean analysts.

Cho Jin-tae of the May 18 Memorial Foundation said the historical legacy of Gwangju has already been settled.

The pundits who advance conspiracy theories misunderstand the past and spread a wrong view of history, Cho said.

Gwangju victims’ families have filed complaints regarding the YouTube channels, but shutting down the channels would violate the law and freedom of expression, according to the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.


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