Mr. Sung Sang-hoon is a journalist from South Korea, and he operates a YouTube site, “Global Defense News.” Recently, the South Korean police came to his house and arrested him at about ten in the morning on May 13, 2020. Four policemen from the cyber investigation division belonging to Kyeonggi Southern District Police Department showed up at his door with an arrest warrant.
When they arrived at the police station, they put handcuffs on him. They kept the cuffs on him for two hours while waiting for his attorneys to show up. They even followed him to the bathroom. They undid the cuffs after the attorneys arrived.
He and his attorney were shocked to learn the reason for the arrest. As it turned out, the City of Pyeongtaek had lodged a complaint against Mr. Sung for a statement he had made on his YouTube program. They were further shocked to learn that the nature of the complaint was a libel suit by the City of Pyeongtaek.
Apparently, the City took exception to the statement Mr. Sung had made following a report of a Chinese man who keeled over and died while waiting to take a Coronavirus test at a city health clinic on January 30. Mr. Sung raised the question of whether the cause of death was related to Wuhan Coronavirus.
The patient had shown typical Coronavirus symptoms the day before—coughing and nasal drips. However, the post mortem test showed a negative result, and the City charged that Mr. Sung had spread fake news and defamed the patient, causing harm.
Mr. Sung and his attorneys wanted to know how he had libeled the patient. Mr. Sung also wanted to know how his broadcast caused harm to the City, but the police did not have answers to these questions. Instead, the police grilled him about his previous broadcasts unrelated to the City of Pyeongtaek, puzzling him.
They asked him about his criticisms against the Moon government and the ruling Minjoo party.
Going by all the questions they had asked him, Mr. Sung gathered that the official “libel suit” the City brought against him was a mere excuse to find faults in his broadcasts.
He felt that this was how the government planned to shut down the independent reporters who use YouTube as their venue. A number of YouTube broadcasters command better rating than the regular television stations.
Mr. Sung is determined to continue his criticisms against the Moon government and his ruling party since he strongly feels that the government is out to suppress the freedom of the press. The government agencies have been known to censure YouTubers.
Many YouTubers point out that their broadcasts often disappear into oblivion. Also, the government censors issue a citation infamously called “yellow-tag ” for broadcasts they find objectionable, resulting in loss of advertising revenue.
Thanks to the presence of the well-known attorneys who were there to do pro bono work on his behalf, he was released after 30 hours.