South Korea has strong laws and practice in criminal defamation and insult, which have affected the creation of equally strong criminal laws and practice in candidate defamation and candidate insult law. Many defamation cases were filed to protect the reputation of public officials, while practically all of the candidate defamation and insult indictments are aimed at protecting the reputation of the candidates for public office. Such a trend has been found at odds with an international human rights standard on freedom of speech that has consistently warned against the antidemocratic potentials of criminal defamation and insult laws. In this Article, the authors engage in an empirical study of South Korean criminal prosecutions for candidate defamation and candidate insult, respectively, to test a postulate underlying human rights standards, namely that criminal defamation law has been abused for political purposes, as the renowned Leflar study has shown in the U.S. context half a century ago, giving rise to such cases as New York Times Co. v. Sullivan and Garrison v. Louisiana.
|University of Pennsylvania Law Review
|Published - 2017