“I was told by my lawyers that the ban on my leaving the country had been renewed for three more months,” Tatsuya Kato told AFP last week, leading up to his next hearing Monday.
The charges against Kato are criminal libel, which stem from an August 2014 article Kato wrote about Park’s whereabouts on the day the Sewol passenger ferry sinking. Kato charges are punishable by up to seven years in jail.
The case has strained relations between Tokyo and Seoul while at the same time garnering international concern about media freedom in South Korea.
The travel ban on the former Seoul bureau chief of Japan’s conservative daily Sankei Shimbun has been in place since August last year.
Kato contends that he had no intention of defaming Park.
The next hearing is scheduled for Monday.
The case has drawn concern from international free speech advocates, including the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, who have voiced concern about what some say is a lack of tolerance for dissent in South Korea.
Critics say that the country’s system hampers the press by placing the burden of proof in such cases on defendants rather than on prosecutors, or on those who say they were defamed –even if the alleged victims of libel are public figures.
This comes as the country recently expelled a Korean-American author on charges that she praised North Korea –followed by the arrest of a Korean activist last week on charges of breaking the country’s anti-communist National Security Law over comments she made about North Korea.
Two Journalists Acquitted
In related news, two South Korean journalists who have been vocal critics of President Park were acquitted Friday, on appeal, from charges of defaming Park’s brother, in a case that rights groups saw as a test of freedom of speech.
The Latest Haps
Busan Subway Lines 1, 2 and 3 have begun emergency services today due to a general strike of the Busan Metro Labor Union.
The city of Busan is looking for public input as they plan to change the look of the city’s buses for the first time in 16 years.
The government is hoping railway services will be running without any major disruption despite a unionized railroad workers’ scheduled strike next week.
The Busan One Asia Festival will have five main K-pop concerts at the Busan Asiad Gymnasium throughout the first 23 days of October.
The Busan International Film Festival has released its main event schedule for this year’s 21st edition. Updates as of September 22, 2016.
Wired magazine has chosen local cartoonist Ryan Estrada’s “Big Data” as one of its top 5 podcasts of the week.
The speed limit on main roads in Busan’s downtown might be lowered to 50 km per hour, which is 10 km less than the previous speed limit.
The 6th Seomyeon Medical Street Festival is starting on September 30th.
That’s not a misprint, but just the way it seems to work when you live abroad. John Bocskay explains.
Pei Wei Asian Diner is set to open a location in Busan by the end of 2017 according to a company press release.
McDonald’s Korea has introduced its newest offering, the Chicken Mac.
A new survey by MasterCard shows that Seoul is once again the 10th most popular city for travel in the world.
Busan’s neighbor to the north has a lot going for it for a fun weekend that’s not so far from home.
While many head to Thailand in search of its magnificent culture, Chiang Mai is a great place to start and one of her best offerings are her awesome temples, known as “Wats”.
North Korea’s goalkeeper gives up one of the worst goals ever — to the opponent’s goalkeeper in an AFC U-16 championship match.
A 29-year-old woman was seriously injured this month when a bungee jump operator failed to secure her rope to the safety hook.
Suyeong-gu Office runs the Stand Up Paddle Board Academy at Gwangalli Beach in September and October.