Korea’s Ex-Culture Minister Jailed for Operating Talent Blacklist

Former South Korean minister of culture, Cho Yoon-sun has been sent to jail for her part in operating a blacklist of media and entertainment figures who did not support the government of disgraced ex-president Park Geun-hye.

An appeals court in Seoul on Tuesday, reviewing the case, found her guilty of conspiracy and increased Cho’s penalty to two years in prison, according to the Yonhap news agency. Cho had previously been cleared of the blacklist charge and given only a one-year suspended sentence for perjury. She was arrested in the court and taken into immediate custody.

Kim Chi-choon, Park’s former chief of staff, also had his sentence increased from three years to four. The court also declared impeached president Park an accomplice. It explained that Park regarded the culture industry as too left of the political center, and decided that it should be “set right.”

Park ordered Kim and Cho to establish a list – that reportedly included some 10,000 names – of talent who were to be excluded from receiving state funding. They included film directors Lee Chan-dong (“Secret Sunshine”,) Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy”,) and Han Kang, novelist winner of the Booker Prize.

“It is unprecedented that the president and her aides, who are at the top of the highest powers, organized, planned and carried out such discriminatory treatment,” the court said. “There is no right or wrong in culture … once the government discriminates against those who think differently, it leads to totalitarianism.”

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