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Gimpo City Cracks Down on Malicious Complaints: What Punishments Await the Offenders?

Gimpo City Requests Investigation into Online Forum Members
Charges of Obstruction of Public Duty Applied
What Level of Punishment Will Be Applied for Malicious Complaints?

Gimpo City

Gimpo City plans to request an investigation into individuals responsible for malicious complaints related to a case of a public official who made a drastic decision due to such complaints.

On the 13th, Gimpo City visited the Gimpo Police Station to submit a request for investigation.

The city requested an investigation into charges of obstruction of public duty, defamation under the Information and Communication Act, and insult against members of an online forum who targeted a grade 9 public official who passed away on the 5th. The Gimpo Police Station plans to start an investigation to prove these allegations.

The city believes that the charges of obstruction of public duty can be applied because threatening actions were taken against the public official who was performing his legitimate duties. In addition, because members of the online forum disclosed grade 9 public official’s personal information and wrote several defamatory posts that differed from the truth, they believed that defamation and insult charges could be established.

Dongdaemun District Office

What would it be if the charges were proven and punishment was applied?

First, the obstruction of public duty, established in the case of assaulting or threatening a public official performing his duties, can result in imprisonment for up to 5 years or a fine of up to $7,600.

In the case of insult, it can result in imprisonment or jail for up to 1 year or a fine of up to $1,500. If defamation is committed by stating false facts, it can result in imprisonment for up to 5 years or a fine of up to $7,600.

In addition, if one repeatedly sends text messages or calls that induce fear or anxiety through the internet or telephone, it can result in imprisonment for up to 1 year or a fine of up to $7,600.

There is not yet a specific law defining or punishing malicious complaints. There is also a lack of response to malicious complaints and support for public officials who are victims of malicious complaints.

Gwangju Buk District Office

According to a survey on malicious complaints conducted last year by the Korean Federation of Government Employee Unions (FGEU), 84% of 7,061 respondents said they had experienced malicious complaints in the past five years.

According to a report released by the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, the number of illegal acts committed by complainants, which was about 34,000 in 2018, increased rapidly to about 38,000 in 2019, about 46,000 in 2020, and about 52,000 in 2021.

Public officials are said to suffer from aftereffects such as stress due to emotions at the time, decreased work concentration, and lethargy even after work. There are even cases where public officials have panic disorders due to complainants entering the government office with a weapon.

Earlier, a malicious complainant injured a public official in a stabbing rampage at a community center in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do. In Gangdong-gu, Seoul, a man took his own life by throwing himself into the Han River after being harassed by parking enforcement work.

In Goyang City, Gyeonggi Province, a female public official took a leave of absence and received psychiatric treatment due to suffering from malicious complaints. In Paju City, a public official was hit in the head with a hammer by a malicious complainant who visited his home.

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In the wake of this incident, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety has decided to establish measures to respond to malicious complaints.

On the 8th, the ministry announced that it operates an internal task force (TF) centered on the Innovation Organization Bureau, Local Administration Bureau, and Autonomous Decentralization Bureau. It said it will be expanded and operated by major related ministries such as the Ministry of Personnel and Innovation, the National Human Rights Commission, the National Police Agency, and local governments.

It also plans to establish fundamental measures to protect public officials handling complaints, including revising related laws.

However, current public officials are skeptical about whether the situation will improve.

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