By Park Si-soo
A painter faces punishment for giving away artwork to his Twitter followers for having cast votes in the June 2 local elections, stirring controversy over whether the artist’s self-motivated cyber campaign to encourage people’s participation in the elections was illegal.
The National Election Commission (NEC) recently decided that painter Lim Ok-sang, who presented his paintings to 300 of his Twitter followers as rewards for voting, violated the Election Law.
“He encouraged those of a specific generation ㅡ in their 20s ㅡ by awarding his works as gifts, which is illegal,” a NEC spokesman said, Friday. “We are going to issue a warning to him since he committed the crime with a lack of legal knowledge.”
The commission will send a package of guidebooks on the Election Law and a warning statement to Lim. Under the law, giving any reward in exchange for voting is prohibited. Even making a promise of a possible reward in itself is against the law.
Violators can face up to five years in prison or a 10 million won fine. Prof. Tak Hyun-min of Hanyang University, novelist Lee Oi-soo, and Park Bum-soo were also accused of the same violation.
Lim called the NEC’s decision “ridiculous,” asking, “Is it illegal to encourage people to participate in voting?” In an interview, the 60-year-old said, “I deserve a state prize for my contribution to boost voting rates. I did the work on behalf of the NEC.”
Oh promised in a message posted on his Twitter one day before the local elections on June 2 that he will present his artwork to 1,000 people in their 20s who send him a photo of themselves taken at a polling station.