On Friday, the Seoul Central District court fined 48-year-old pop artist, Lee Byeong-ha, for distributing leaflets that were critical of President Park Geun-hye.
Lee, who goes by the stage name of Leeha, was ordered to pay the equivalent of about $1,800 for the distribution of 18,000 leaflets in Seoul and other major cities between 2014 and 2015, reports Yonhap.
Additionally charged was an actor, identified only by his surname Han, who was ordered to pay $178 in fines for his collaboration with Lee.
“The defendants said it was a fair expression of their political views, but considering the amount, the location and how the leaflets were spread, it is hard to justify their actions,” the court said.
Lee has been charged previously for similar allegations but was found not guilty or given a suspended sentence.
Read More: Yonhap “S. Korean Pop Artist Fined for Satirizing President Park“
South Korea has strict defamation laws even if the subject matter is completely true. Korea’s Criminal Code section 307 specifically defines criminal defamation as: damaging a person’s reputation –even when publicly displaying facts.
Last year, Japanese journalist, Tatsuya Kato, was charged by South Korean prosecutors for defaming the president for reporting on widely-circulated rumors related to Park and the Sewol ferry tragedy. Prosecutors sought an 18-month prison sentence for Kato but he was eventually cleared of charges.