I heard from a friend that "Communist activities" are banned in South Korea.

How extensive are punishments and persecution to people who do these activities, what qualifies a communist activity, and should someone who (while not a communist) but still of the far left, be worried about visiting?

How are these laws received by the citizens of South Korea?

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    so the constitution there guarantees the citizen's rights to free speech, as long as the citizens speak the speech approved by the government? why wouldn't that be challenged?
    – dannyf
    Feb 2 '17 at 18:20
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    It is rather authoritarian. They are at war with an ex-communist country now so it would be rather concerning to them I suppose.
    – Developred
    Feb 2 '17 at 18:45
  • Yes, it is. I am from South Korea, and if you are a communist there, you can end up with either life imprisonment or death sentence.
    – user25526
    Apr 7 '19 at 1:40

Technically yes

The law that describes this is the National Security Act. The relevant passage from the wiki states (emphasis mine):

In other words, it made communism illegal; recognition of North Korea as a political entity; organizations advocating the overthrow of the government; the printing, distributing, and ownership of "anti-government" material; and any failure to report such violations by others illegal. It has been reformed and strengthened over the past few decades, with the Anti-communism Law being merged with it during the 1980s

As for application of the law, there is another passage:

The South Korean High Court has a ruling history since 1978 that has classified 1,220 books and print material as "Enemy's Expressions" by force of precedence. Two state-established research institutes decide what books and print materials meet the criteria of "Enemy's Expressions": the Democratic Ideology Institute, established in 1997 under the direct orders of the Chief Prosecutor, and the Public Safety Affairs Institute of the Korea National Police University.

However, since the early 1990s, the Public Prosecutor's Office has chosen not to bring any citizens (or publishers) to the courts for what's deemed by common sense as not risky. Courts still invoke the law when increasing fines or years in prison for political charges against what the South Korean state deems subversive- in most of the cases pro-North Korea- groups.

So in short, I think that as a tourist you should be fine to visit no matter how left you are. Just don't shout that Communism is the best and North Korea is the only Korea in front of a police station and you should be fine.

  • Where could I find a list of these books?
    – Developred
    Feb 2 '17 at 22:22
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    @Inviolable Dunno, but you can probably google around for them. I suspect that most would be in korean though. Feb 2 '17 at 22:23
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    Just to make things crystal clear: being communist and being supportive to North Korea are totally different things.
    – Taladris
    Feb 4 '17 at 0:33
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    @Taladris Beware that lawmakers might have chosen not to understand that they are different things. Mixing your political enemies with as many unpopular labels as you can is a common old strategy.
    – Pere
    Feb 7 '18 at 22:00

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