Artist-activist Lim Ok-sang found guilty of sexual assault

Artist Lim Ok-sang appears for his trial for sexual assault at the Seoul Central District Court in Seocho District, southern Seoul, on Thursday. [YONHAP]

Artist Lim Ok-sang appears for his trial for sexual assault at the Seoul Central District Court in Seocho District, southern Seoul, on Thursday. [YONHAP]

 
Artist and activist Lim Ok-sang has been convicted of sexual assault and given six months in prison, with his sentencing delayed for two years, on Thursday. The court also ordered him to complete 40 hours of sexual offender treatment.
 
Lim is considered to be part of the minjung art movement, which sought to bring social change during the 1980s under military dictatorship.
 
A judge at the Seoul Central District Court said, “The liability for the crime when considering the relationship between the defendant and the victim, the degree of molestation and the progress following the crime, should not be taken lightly,” adding “the victim has never forgiven the defendant and is traumatized severely.”
 
The court said the sentencing took into consideration that Lim is showing remorse and has deposited 20 million won ($14,900) to compensate the victim.
 
Lim was indicted without detention in June for hugging and kissing an employee that worked in his studio by force in August 2013.
 
In his final plea last month, Lim admitted his charges, saying, “I made a wrong impulsive choice 10 years ago and caused damage. I’m ashamed, and I’m sorry.”
 
Following Lim’s sentence, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has decided to remove his works that are installed in citywide facilities, based on the judgment that maintaining and preserving the works of an artist that has caused social controversy does not fit the purpose of public art.
 
This includes his works installed in the “Place of Memory” park in Jung District, central Seoul, which was made to pay respect to the “comfort women” victims, or Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by imperial Japan during the Second World War.
 
There are four more scattered across Seoul, which will be taken down.
 
For the past five decades, Lim has voiced his political opinions through his paintings, sculptures and live performances. His painting of a night in Gwanghwamun Square in 2016 which portrayed Korean citizens protesting former President Park Geun-hye was hung inside the main building of the Blue House.

BY SHIN MIN-HEE [shin.minhee@joongang.co.kr]

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