Former Prime Minister Han Myeongsook poses for the camera, stepping on a large Korean national flag while placing a flower at the memorial stone of former President Roh Moo-hyun on the second anniversary of his death in front of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation in Mapo, Seoul, in this file photo taken on May 23. / Courtesy of Voice of Seoul
By Kim Tae-jong
The prosecution has launched an investigation into an allegation that former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook defamed the Korean national flag, Taegeukgi.
The probe began after conservative groups accused her of defaming the national flag by stepping on an oversized version while participating in a ceremony to observe the second anniversary of the death of former President Roh Moo-hyun on May 23.
The organizers of the ceremony placed a large flag on the ground and put a memorial stone on it and people paid their respects.
“Han intentionally stepped on the national flag while joining a ceremony to express her respects to the former President,” seven groups including the Korean Parents’ Association and the Families of Abductees to North Korea said in a statement.
“She didn’t stop ceremony organizers from spreading the national flag on the ground and placing a memorial stone in the center. She even took a photo of herself stepping on it,” they said, adding that it was an intentional act to express her discontent with the country.
Under the current law, those who damage or defame the national flag can be subject to a maximum of five years in jail or a 7 million won ($6,473) fine.
Following the accusation, the prosecution will decide whether she intended to hurt the dignity of the nation intentionally before they question her.
서울중앙지검 형사8부(박용호 부장검사)는 노무현 전 대통령 2주기 분향소에서 태극기를 밟고 헌화를 한 한명숙 전 총리를 보수단체 3곳이 국기모독 혐의로 고발함에 따라 수사를 할 계획이라고 8일 밝혔다.
민주화보상법개정추진본부 등 3개 단체는 고발장에서 "한 전 총리가 노 전 대통령 추모비 건립을 위한 모임에서 대형 태극기를 깔아놓고 그 중앙에 비석을 세워 놓은 채 헌화하고 태극기를 짓밟아 국기를 모독했다"고 주장했다.
검찰은 고발장 내용을 중심으로 한 전 총리의 행위가 국기모독죄에 해당하는지 법리를 검토한 뒤 단체 관계자들을 불러 고발 경위와 이유 등을 확인할 계획이다.