Abusive language about President Lee Myung-bak is carved at the bottom of the altar.
/ Korea Times File
By Kwon Mee-yoo
A cartoonist who drew a cartoon bearing an abusive word directed toward President Lee Myung-bak in a local public relations paper was asked to pay indemnities of 20 million won ($17,000) by a court.
The Wonju branch of Chuncheon District Court in Gangwon Province recommended the 44-year-old Choi settle the dispute with Wonju City by paying 20 million won in damages.
He drew the cartoon in June for a promotional paper of Wonju City. It depicted family members paying respect to a soldier's monument, and offensive words against the President were hidden in a pattern on the monument. The city distributed some 20,000 copies of the paper.
The hidden message was found by citizens and spread online. The city recalled all the papers and apologized for printing the controversial cartoon.
The city sued Choi for 120 million won in damages. It claimed he had dishonored the city with the remarks and insulted not only the President but all public servants.
In an interview with a local paper in June, Choi claimed contemporary cartoons should reflect the dark side of society as well, though he acknowledged the inappropriateness of the cartoon.
The prosecution indicted Choi for interfering with city administration as the abusive language was placed in the cartoon secretly.
After the court decided on the amount of the settlement, both parties showed their intention to end the dispute.
"We were informed of the court's decision, though the document has not arrived yet. When it arrives, we will discuss the matter with our mayor to make a final decision," a city official said.
"Choi regretted his misconduct, which defamed the city. We are likely to accept the advice."
Yonhap reported that Choi wants to resolve the conflict and is likely to honor the court's decision.