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Statement from South Korea's progressive professors and academics

Joint Action against the Oppression on Labor Books under National Security Law

Jan 16, 2017 — Set Lee Jin-young of Labor Books free!
Abolish the National Security Law that suppresses
academic freedom, and freedom of thought!

On January 5th, Lee Jin-young was arrested in violation of the National Security Law by possessing, distributing and selling the enemy-benefiting publications. He runs the web site Labor Books(, an electronic library, which shares many out-of-print books, provides secondhand books in low prices, and helps financially weak workers read rare books for free. As a matter of fact, Lee has carried out the task that the public institutions are responsible for. Instead of appreciating his efforts, the government detained him by applying the NSL, an archaic legacy of the old regime.

Over 3,000 books, collected in the archive of Labor Books, are legally published, distributed in various book markets, found in university libraries, and personally owned by general public. However, by labelling E. H. Carr's The Russian Revolution, Paulo Freire's The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and Dialectical Materialism, and others as enemy-benefiting publications, the prosecution revealed its own ignorance.

This outrageous incident occurred under acting president Hwang Gyo-an, who is in complicity with political crimes of Park Geun-hye Gate, and was a infamous prosecutor specialized in public security cases. Hwang's government led the National Information Service and the Prosecution in order to escape from the crisis of the reactionary conservative forces and consolidate pro-Park forces politically. Candlelight grassroots have protested against the corrupt regime in the hope for authentic democracy in which every citizen is respected, but the old regime, now led by Hwang Gyo-an, threatens citizens with National Security Law. Though Park was impeached by the Parliament, the government under the acting presidency has hardly changed.

Once again we realize that sharp blade of archaic NSL is targeted at the mind and everyday lives of workers and citizens. Again the public security repression and political maneuvering is used to disturb and dived the candlelight protests. The ideology of public security in fictitious and fabricated form attempts to deride and deceive candlelight protests in squares and streets. This is a provocative attack on the candlelight protests, and a massive reactionary maneuver against the soverign people who want to change the society at large beyond Park Geun-hye.

The National Security Law is the pronoun for state violence. It is the worst of the worst laws that control the internal mind of individuals and turn a mere thought against state-directed values and ideas into anti-state crimes. Last 70 years or so, the NSL has set the ideological standard what dictates the lives of workers and people.

The ambiguous regulations of the NSL and its arbitrary application has caused enormous pains among countless workers and citizens. Many of them lost their lives and their human rights were trampled mercilessly. Especially, from the old case of People's Revolutionary Party to the recent Yu Woosung spy case, the security institutions fabricated numerous cases through tortures, threats, and violences. The over-expansion of the security and intelligence institutions like the police, prosecution and the NIS, destroyed democracy and made the society abnormal. The NSL helped reproduce an equal social structure by violating the basic principle of equality before law. The violence also created a social atmosphere which drove people less sensitive toward the pains of other people out of fear. The only force that wants to keep the NSL in tact is the establishment, the ruling power elite and monopoly capital.

We feel deeply responsible for thinking that the NSL was made a dead letter and neglecting viciousness and strength of this evil law. Therefore, we resolve to wage a struggle to abolish the National Security Law that suppresses our political and academic freedom, and the freedom of thought, conscience, press and publication. Especially, we emphasize that the clause 7 of the NSL, on encouragement and praise, is typically anti-democratic, anti-human rights clause that the international community, including UN institutions, persistently recommended the South Korean government to abolish.

The starting point of building a new society, the key task of the historic candlelight protests, is the abolition of the National Security Law. Further, the liquidation of the old regime does not stop at the elimination of evil laws and institutions, but should go forward to the elimination of the personnel responsible for power abuse. Thereby, the anti-democratic maneuvers of abnormal, preposterous reactionary forces should be stopped. We, National Emergency Assembly of Professors and Academics, will struggle until Lee Jin-young is set free and the National Security Law is abolished.

- Abolish the National Security Law!
- Guarantee political and academic freedom, and freedom of thought!
- Stop the oppression of Labor Books and release Lee Jin-young!
- Dismantle public security prosecution and National Information Service!
- Resign, Hwang Gyo-an!

January 12, 2017

National Emergency Assembly of Professors and Academics
for Immediate Resignation of Park Geun-hye and Reconstitution of a Democratic and Equal State System

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