Thursday, February 07, 2008

[The Hankyoreh, January 16 2008] Newspaper publisher acquitted 47 years after his execution for "helping North Korea"

A young newspaper publisher who was executed in the early 1960s for collaborating with North Korea was acquitted Wednesday in an emotional trial that cleared one of the most wrenching legacies of the country's decades of authoritarian rule.

Jo Yong-su, the founder of the Minjok Ilbo meaning People's Newspaper, was executed at the age of 32 after being convicted by a military court of setting up the newspaper with North Korea's financial support and being a member of pro-Pyongyang underground organizations.

"The defendant is innocent," Judge Kim Yong-seok of the Seoul Central District Court said, as his family members and friends applauded and wept. There's no evidence that he participated in such pro-North Korean parties, the judge said.


He established the Minjok Ilbo in February in 1961, just months before Park Chung-hee, then an army general, overthrew the government in a May 16 coup. His independent newspaper sold well, with stories criticizing the authoritarian regime, divulging officials' corruption and promoting peaceful reunification with North Korea in a sharp contrast to the established papers which aligned with the Park regime.

Jo was arrested shortly after the May 16 coup, along with his senior staffers. The junta's court sentenced him to death in August, and an appeals court upheld the ruling in October. He was executed in December. His colleagues served jail terms

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