A simple Twitter-based lampoon almost backfired for one South Korean user this week, after a Seoul court found him guilty of breaking the country’s strict national security law by retweeting North Korean propaganda.
Suwon District Court handed 24-year-old Park Jeong-geun a 10-month suspended prison sentence after ruling he had broken the National Security Law, which prohibits the glorification of the reclusive Asian dictatorship.
Park retweeted dozens of posts from the official Pyongyang account last year but claimed he was only doing it to take the mickey, according to the Washington Post.
He was spared a stretch inside after promising not to do it again, although he could have been banged up for seven years if the court had imposed the maximum available sentence.
The case will be a victory of sorts for North Korea and its new-ish supreme leader Kim Jong-un, having only set up the @uriminzok Twitter account back in August 2010.
The perils of living next to a nuclear-powered secretive state notwithstanding, the case highlights the problems encountered when ordinary folk attempt humour on the microblog.
An albeit pretty unfunny tweet from a certain Paul Chambers back in 2010, in which he jokingly threatened to blow up Robin Hood airport after it was closed due to snow, led to a two year battle through the courts to clear his name after he was found guilty of sending a menacing message.
Having won the backing of a string of high profile luvvies, Chambers eventually had his conviction quashed by the High Court earlier this year.
He got off lightly compared to the plight of Chinese micro-blogger Zhai Xiaobing, who made the mistake of mocking the Communist Party ahead of the hugely important 18th Party Congress and was carted away by Public Security Bureau.
A petition has been launched calling for his release but Zhai remains in custody. ®