A former student activist accused of carrying pro-North Korea materials in her bag has been declared not guilty as she was presumed to be unaware of the contents, the Supreme Court said Thursday.
South Korea's National Security Law strictly prohibits the distribution of publications praising the North's communist regime or participation in activities sympathetic to it.
Lee Joo-hee, now 33, was indicted on charges of carrying a printout containing the word "comradeship" and other expressions justifying the North's regime and idolizing its late founder, Kim Il-sung, at the time of her arrest in November 2003. She was head of a national student committee for the minor opposition Democratic Labor Party.
The Supreme Court acquitted Lee of the charges, upholding two previous rulings at lower courts.
"Based on the fact that all kinds of printouts were distributed widely and by diverse routes among college student activists, the fact that there were many other printouts in the bag, and the fact that there are no notes, underlines or other evidence that the printout was read, there is a possibility that the (pro-North Korea) printout was placed in the bag along with other printed material without Lee's awareness," a court official said.
National Security Law cases are common in South Korea, where cross-border activities and flow of information are strictly controlled since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, rather than a peace treaty, leaving the sides in a technical state of war.
In January, a South Korean pastor was sentenced to five years in jail for traveling to the North without prior authorization and for praising the regime there while denouncing the Lee Myung-bak administration in the South.(Yonhap)