Defense ministry cancels punishment of officer for petitioning against ban on ‘seditious books’


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The Ministry of National Defense recently canceled a decision to discipline and discharge a former military judicial officer from the Army for petitioning against the military’s ban on “seditious books,” according to the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission on Tuesday.

The ministry’s disciplinary punishment for the former officer was canceled on Oct. 24 and his forced discharge was nullified on Oct. 31, said the civil rights watchdog.

The case dates back to July 2008 when the ministry banned service members from reading 23 books, including “Bad Samaritans” written by Chang Ha-joon, a professor of economics, which it then considered “subversive” due to pro-North Korean and anti-government content.

The book “Bad Samaritans” and its author professor Chang Ha-joon (Yonhap)

The former military judicial officer and six others filed a petition with the Constitutional Court in October of the same year, arguing that the ban violates the service members’ right to pursue happiness.

The defense ministry then dismissed two of the plaintiffs, including the judicial officer, for violating their duty of submission and a ban on collective action, and took disciplinary actions against five others.

The two were reinstated in 2011 through court rulings but were forcibly discharged from the Army the following year.

The civil rights commission said it asked the defense ministry to cancel the disciplinary punishment and forced discharge for the former judicial office and the ministry complied. (Yonhap)


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