Reversing an earlier conviction, a Seoul district court on Friday acquitted a former lawmaker of charges that he made sexist and derogatory remarks about female TV announcers four years ago.
Kang Yong-seok, 45, was indicted on charges of telling a group of female college students in July 2010 that being a anchorwoman involves engaging in unwanted sexual relationships, suggesting that they should be willing to offer sex to advance their careers.
A total of 295 female TV announcers soon filed a libel suit against Kang, claiming that he had defamed them.
Overturning the original ruling that gave him a suspended prison term, Seoul Western District Court on Friday handed down a not guilty verdict to the lawyer charged with defamation, a criminal offense in the country.
The court said although his remarks were inappropriate, they did not damage the reputation of an individual as the remarks were made in general terms.
"The level of the remarks was not censorious enough to affect the social reputation of an individual as the remarks targeted female announcers generally not an individual," Judge Oh Seong-woo said in his ruling.
The court, however, found Kang guilty of falsely accusing a newspaper reporter, who published the comments, of spreading falsehoods and handed down a fine of 15 million won (US$14,700).
A lower court and an appellate court had initially sentenced Kang to six months in prison, suspended for one year, but the Supreme Court, overturning previous convictions, sent the case for a retrial.
Following the Friday's ruling, Kang offered an apology, saying that he "will always be discrete about remarks in the future."
The lawyer-turned-lawmaker who had been with the Grand National Party, the predecessor of the ruling Saenuri Party, was ousted from the party after the remarks were reported. Kang has since become a popular TV commentator. (Yonhap)