“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
A plan to lower the speed limit of all of roads in Busan from the current 60 kilometers per hour to 50 kilometers per hour will be promoted.
Subway line 1’s new extension from Sinpyeong to Dadae-po is expected to open on April 20th.
The city office is going to create an access road on Gwangan Bridge to help combat traffic congestion in Centum City.
The monthly Ha Ha Hole returns this Friday night and it’s looking for female comics to take center stage.
Psychedelic shoegaze from New Zealand, Moses, will be performing in Busan Friday, March 10, on the Busan leg of their Whareama album release tour.
Around 2,000 people are expected to be involved in Marvel Comics “Black Panther” shooting in Busan.
The nation’s favorite boat festival sets sail for the fourth year.
The Busan International Women’s Association is hosting a “Mardi Gras Ball” on Saturday, April 22nd at the Haeundae Grand Hotel.
The Paradise Hotel’s third floor Chinese restaurant ‘Nampoong’ has introduced a new dim sum course meal for spring.
One of Busan’s most legendary watering holes is celebrating its 15th anniversary this Friday night.
Jeju Air will hold a big promotional event with great prices on domestic and international tickets from the 23rd of March through the 5th of April.
Check out this video from the city that shows the top eight spring flower spots in Busan.
The opening ceremony of Gyeongnam’s Jinhae Naval Port Festival, the nation’s largest spring flower festival, is coming up in 10 days.
Drivers will have to pay for their parking at the attached parking area of Sajik Stadium starting from the next month.
The Lotte Giants, will have a special “Lee Dae Ho Cheering Zone” at the opening home game on April 4th and the first weekend home game on April 8th.