South Korean scandal: 'Blacklisted' artists file lawsuit against President Park Geun-Hye, officials

Seoul: Hundreds of South Korean artists filed a lawsuit against impeached President Park Geun-Hye and two officials on Thursday over a state "blacklist" of creatives who had criticised the authorities. Park's former chief of staff and the ex-culture minister were charged this week for compiling and enforcing the list of nearly 10,000 artists in music, literature, film, dance, fine arts and theatre.

 South Korean scandal: Blacklisted artists file lawsuit against President Park Geun-Hye, officials


The list of "left-wing" artists was aimed at starving them of government subsidies or private funding, according to prosecutors probing a wider scandal around Park. In the legal action, 461 artists sought one million won (USD 872) each for breach of their basic rights in privacy and freedom of expression and belief, said lawyers representing them.

"The artists were forced to censor themselves to avoid being labelled as 'leftists' and treated unfairly in state support, or becoming targets of state surveillance," the Lawyers for a Democratic Society said in a statement.

"We would like to show that it is wrong for authorities to try to conquer and tame culture and the arts by abusing its power through the blacklist," it said. The defendants include Park, the two indicted officials, and several state bodies in charge of distributing government subsidies to artists.

Many artists on the list had satirised or criticised in their works Park or her late dictator father, Park Chung-Hee, who ruled with an iron fist from 1961 to 1979. Many also criticised her policy failures including a botched rescue effort over the 2014 Sewol ferry sinking disaster that killed 300, or simply voiced support for the victims' families. The full list features many top stars in Seoul's art scene, including Han Kang, who won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize with her novel "Vegetarian", and "Oldboy" film director Park Chan-Wook.

Updated Date: Feb 09, 2017 15:42:23 IST