A book titled "Goodbye, Lee Jae-myung" is placed on a table during a parliamentary session in this file photo taken on Dec. 28, 2021. (Yonhap)
A local court on Thursday dismissed an injunction request by the ruling Democratic Party (DP) to stop the sales of a book criticizing its presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung.
The Seoul Northern District Court rejected the DP's application to ban Seoul-based publisher JW Books from selling and distributing the controversial book titled "Goodbye, Lee Jae-myung," citing the people's right to know and freedom of expression.
The 240-page book, authored by lawyer Jang Young-ha, details a long-running conflict between Lee and his late elder brother Lee Jae-sun and suspicions of other irregularities involving the DP candidate.
Jang reportedly wrote the book based on data received from the wife of the late Lee and a reporter. The book, which has been on sale at bookstores since Dec. 24, reached No. 2 on Kyobo Bookstore's bestseller list in the second week of January.
"The morality and integrity of public officials and the fairness of their work should always be subject to public monitoring and criticism," the court said, stressing the surveillance and critique functions should not be easily restricted.
In light of the importance of freedom of expression and the people's right to know, it is difficult to believe that the book is not for the public interest or it is a malicious or irrelevant attack on candidate Lee, the court said.
The court then refuted the DP's assertions raised about the content of the book one by one.
The DP attacked the book's description of Lee's attempt to forcibly send his brother to a psychiatric hospital years ago, saying the brother had been suffering from mental illness since around 2012.
But the court said there is no objective data on the brother's alleged mental illness. Lee Jae-sun died of lung cancer in 2017.
The DP also took issue with the book's mention of suspicions of Lee's confidantes taking a significant portion of several trillions of won in development profits from a property development project in Seongnam, south of Seoul.
But the court said it is difficult to view the book's mention on the Seongnam project as untrue, noting that many people, including Yoo Dong-gyu, former acting president of Seongnam Development Corp., are currently standing relevant trials and there have been quite a lot of media reports on the case. (Yonhap)