Park Dae-sung, 30, who claims himself to be “Minerva,” is surrounded by reporters before being taken to a detention center, Saturday. The Seoul Central District Court issued a warrant against him on charges of spreading false information over the Internet. / Korea Times Photo by Wang Tae-seok
Park Dae-sung is accused of spreading false rumors that damaged the government’s reputation in the world financial market. The case has sparked debate over freedom of expression in South Korea.
Amid growing debate over whether there was more than one person who blogged on economic matters on the Internet under the ID “Minerva,” no one other than Park Dae-sung, who claims to be Minerva, is under investigation, prosecution sources said yesterday.
Prosecutors said the two key postings, made on July 30 and Dec. 29, 2008, were uploaded from Park’s IP address. “We analyzed Park’s e-mail and phone records and confirmed that there was no accomplice,” a prosecutor said.
Park has been detained by prosecutors since Jan. 11 on charges of spreading false rumors under the alias. In the Dec. 29 post, he said the government had ordered major banks and exporters not to purchase dollars, causing an upswing in dollar demand, prosecutors said. The government denies the claim, although others have said it was close to the truth.
According to prosecutors, Park borrowed economics books on 91 occasions from a library near his home. The books matched those mentioned in Minerva’s posts, they said.
The monthly magazine Shindonga in its February edition released yesterday, reported that there were seven people responsible for the Minerva posts.
“I worked at three financial institutions in the past and am a financial consultant,” a person identified by the initial K, who also called himself Minerva, was quoted as saying by Shingdonga. “Minerva is not one person but a group of seven. I was the main poster.”
Park maintained yesterday through his attorney, Park Chan-jong, that he was the one who made the predictions last year. “Park Dae-sung says he is the Minerva who predicted the liquidation of Lehman Brothers and influenced the media,” said the lawyer, who said Park felt hurt by the Shindonga report. “Park has been arrested but he is being treated like a fake because of the report,” said Park Chang-jong.
Minerva Story on BBC Radio
Listen here: (Minerva story starts approx. two-thirds in.)
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