A revised law on public indecency approved by the Cabinet on Monday has caused an instant stir with citizens denouncing the act, saying it restricts freedom of expression.
The enforcement ordinance listed a number of misdemeanors including stalking, public indecency and concealing weapons. It also set the amount of fines, including a 50,000 won penalty for flashers and 80,000 won for stalkers caught for the first time.
However, some say that the regulation reminds them of police crackdowns on mini skirts and long-haired men in the 1970s. They questioned what exactly is defined as disturbing the general public and raised concerns that the police could make arbitrary decisions.
Some celebrities, particularly those famous for their liberal fashion style, have also made derisive comments via social network services.
Nancy Lang, artist-turned-entertainer, uploaded a composite picture of her wearing bikini and the face of Shin Saimdang, a female artist from the Joseon era, printed on the 50,000 won bill. Lee Hyo-ri, a sex symbol and singer, said on her Twitter that she is now “dead.”
As controversy rose, the police said the public has misunderstood the context of the law, and that celebrities exposing their bodies on TV and in shows is not a finable offense.
The agency said the revision actually eases the current regulations. It is designed to reduce the level of punishment imposed on offenders and simplify administrative and legal procedures for them.
The law on public indecency was written in 1973 under the Yushin regime. For the last 40 years, the law has allowed offenders to be put on summary trial and face a fine under 100,000 won, officials said.
Critics said the government should have thought of abolishing the law itself, not revising it, which goes counter to the current times.
By Cho Chung-un (email@example.com