The second division of the Supreme Court announced that it had overturned the lower court that acquitted A, a man in his 40s accused of contempt, and sent the case back to the Seoul Northern District Court. Back in October 2015, A wrote comments such as, “This is just overrated press play. She’s just a national hotel girl,” and in December 2015, he wrote, “The movie was a total miss. Why did you put Suzy with ***? JYP’s press play is annoying,” and was handed over to trial.
During the trial, A commented, “The comment is content that legitimately criticizes the commerciality of entertainment agencies and is an expression of public interest in celebrities.” He also claimed that he “did not exceed the level allowed on the internet.”
The first trial judged that expressions such as “overrated,” “national hotel girl,” “failed movie, “goner” and more were enough to be considered insulting words that could lower Suzy’s social evaluation and sentenced him to a fine of ₩1.00 million KRW (about $786 USD).
However, the second trial overturned the judgment and acquitted A. They judged that the same criteria as non-celebrities cannot always be applied when judging whether a person receiving public attention, such as a celebrity, constitutes an offense of insult.
The Supreme Court overturned the ruling and sent the case back to the lower court as guilty. The Supreme Court evaluated that “overrated”, “failed movie,” “goner” are criticisms of the public domain, such as the publicity method of entertainment companies or movie performance, and fall within the realm of freedom of expression, even if the expression is harsh. However, they decided that “national hotel girl” was different.
The Supreme Court stated, “This phrase is a way of degrading Suzy as a sexual object while hinting at an image that is opposite to the image that Suzy appealed to the public.” They continued, “It can be evaluated as a contemptuous expression that can lower the social image of Suzy, a female celebrity, and is not justifiable as it is out of the scope of legitimate criticism.”