Korean Law Demystified!

When is an Online Review Defamatory (in South Korea)?

A: When it is malicious. Let me try to explain.

In South Korea, defamation is a crime, and truth (alone) is not a defense. This means it’s possible to defame another person even via a true statement. But not all true statements are defamatory. If a true statement was made “solely for the public interest,” it is not considered defamatory. Generally speaking, a statement is interpreted as being “solely for the public interest” when:

1) The statement is a factual account/observation of events.

e.g., “The manager’s breath smelled of soju.” –> Good!

e.g., “I’m pretty sure that was not the first time.” –> Dangerous!

2) The statement was made at an appropriate forum/place.

e.g., Via personal blog or a relevant bulletin board. –> Good!

e.g., Via here and there, wherever possible. –> Dangerous!

In South Korea, publicly insulting another person can also be a crime. So please try to avoid online name-calling at all times.

Thanks for reading!

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