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Police crack down on Cheonan rumors

With inter-Korean tension mounting following the deadly attack on a South Korean warship, some have been caught for spreading false rumors.

The cyber crime investigation team of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency booked a 26-year-old man surnamed Choi for violating the telecommunication law, said officials Monday.

Choi sent out last week mobile text messages, using the Defense Ministry’s key number, to notify his friends that they may be drafted into the Army in an emergency.

The message was forwarded or posted online by the alarmed receivers and many made inquiry calls to the ministry, said officials.

“Choi thought it would be fun to scare his friends with the Cheonan scenario, especially while the entire country remained tense about the issue,” said a police official.

“He does not seem to have a political purpose for doing so.”

In a separate case, a 40-year-old man also surnamed Choi was booked on Monday for posting false rumors on the Internet, holding the United States responsible for the ship sinking.

Choi also accused, during police questioning, the present Lee Myung-bak administration of laying the blame on North Korea in order to gain an upper hand in the upcoming local elections.

A 23-year-old surnamed Jang impersonated a Navy lieutenant and claimed that the Navy was to be held responsible for not properly responding to emergency signs of the ship.

The SMPA vowed to lead an extensive investigation on false rumors concerning the sunken ship.

“We will take the strictest measures against those who spread false rumors or defame the deceased soldiers or their families,” said SMPA chief Jo Hyun-oh on Monday in a meeting of senior police officials.

Some of these acts constitute a serious crime against national security and public peace, said officials.

The police will also watch out for all illicit bribery or political slander as the June 2 local elections are nearing, they said. 

By Bae Hyun-jung  (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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