● Insulting remarks at a child and broadcasting the child’s face without blurring it out!
● Victims’ three-year request for an apology was refused and finally the case was brought to the court.
● An important precedent for future cases about children’s personal rights and honor such as the matter of portrait rights and contempt.
A ruling of the Suwon District Court, which ignored children’s rights, has become a hot potato. The Christian Television System (hereinafter ‘CTS’) and its broadcast of Tark’s lecture on TV, which infringed on children’s rights, was brought to court. But the court’s ‘too lenient’ verdict, overlooking the damage done to the child victims, aroused great controversy.
This controversy was set off as Tark, who is working as an expert member of the Heresy Investigation Committee of the Christian Counsel of Korea, gave a lecture on a CTS program, using a children’s chorus video without permission, which was on the homepage of the kindergarten that is affiliated with a certain religion.
In December, 2006, Tark, an expert member of the Heresy Investigation Committee of the Christian Counsel of Korea gave a lecture on a CTS program, using a children’s chorus video without permission, which was on the homepage of the kindergarten that is affiliated with a certain religion.
In the process, the CTS broadcasted the video without blurring out the children’s faces and it went out as it is. Besides that, the lecturer Tark even pointed out some children and insulted their character in the program.
The program was broadcasted two more times, apart from the original airing. Because of the broadcast, the children’s relatives, neighbors, and friends, who recognized them on TV, criticized, insulted, and even forced them to convert to another religion. It turned out that they were severely damaged because of the program.
At this, some parents of the child victims immediately brought criminal charges against Tark, the lawsuit proceeded, and the Supreme Court confirmed the original verdict that Tark, who caused the children to suffer mental distress through the same method at CTS, Myeongji University, and many other churches last October, should pay a fine of 500,000 Korean won (500 USD), acknowledging his guilt of insulting children.
Meanwhile, since the child victims were continually being ostracized and criticized, the parents of the victims requested CTS to apologize on TV, but their request was denied. Though the CTS production staff promised to apologize, they just sent an official document that only included their excuses. This caused more mental anguish for the child victims.
Ultimately, the parents of the child victims held a press conference to call upon the CTS to apologize in front of the CTS building, three times from March to June, 2009. However, the CTS kept saying, “Let the law be the judge.” The child victims and their parents could not help but appeal to the courts. The problem with the ruling is the compensation claim.
“Contradiction”: reducing compensation while acknowledging great mental pain
In December, 2009, Lee (18, then 7 in the video), one of the child victims, and his parents went to court against the CTS and Tark for damages. Last October, the Seongnam Branch of the Suwon District Court (Judge Jeong Seok-won) ruled that the CTS had to pay the plaintiff 3,000,000 Korean won (3,000 USD)—2,000,000 won to Lee and 1,000,000 won to his parents.
The court acknowledged the infringement of portrait rights and insult, and the fact that Lee suffered great mental distress because of the defendant’s illegal acts. Tark too received the same verdict of guilty from the court.
However, Lee and his parents considered the ruling very unfair because three years of his mental suffering was not acknowledged, and so they protested against the decision and appealed to the high court. On the 18th, the Civil Affairs Agreement 4th Dept. of the Suwon District Court, which is the high court (Chief Judge Baek Gang-jin) dismissed the appeal against Tark and maintained the ruling from the first trial and reduced the compensation by half. The court of appeals declared that the CTS only had to pay 1,000,000 Korean won (1,000 USD) to Lee and 600,000 won (600 USD) to his parents for compensation.
From the 19th, the day after the judgment, Lee’s mother held a one-person demonstration in front of the Suwon District Court, pointing out the unfair ruling of the court and lamenting, the “50% Discount on the Compensation Court Ruling” is killing my son a second time.”
She expressed her anger, saying, “The decision of the original trial on Tark was unfair as it was. Now, the reduction of compensation is too absurd and ridiculous.”
And she added, “The compensation is the wage of the mental suffering my son went through. But the court reduced the compensation by half. It proves that the court didn’t understand or consider at all how much my child suffered. He used to say, ‘I want to commit suicide because of the program’ so many times. Hearing the court ruling, he was shocked and just keeps crying.”
Reporter Lee Seul[firstname.lastname@example.org]