Thousands of students, citizens and defectors were prosecuted, jailed and even executed under the 1948 lawNow, the rise of far-left, pro-Pyongyang activists exploiting the looser enforcement of the law has sparked a backlash from conservative groups
In downtown Seoul, some 40 young South Koreans last month braved early winter chills to show their support for a planned visit to the South Korean capital by North Korea’s leader, chanting “Kim Jong-un! Kim Jong-un! Kim Jong-un is a great man!”
Kim Soo-geun, who founded a youth group called “Welcome Committee for a Great Man”, has been drumming up donations from passers-by so they can run a subway advertisement to welcome Kim, who this year agreed to visit Seoul.
“I like the communist party. You’ll like them soon as well,” he shouted.
More than a dozen civic groups have sprung up to welcome Kim, visiting schools to collect welcome messages, imitating the dance moves of a North Korean art troupe and even naming their group after Mount Paektu, which Pyongyang says is the birthplace of Kim’s sacred bloodline.
Such activities have become possible as President Moon Jae-in’s administration relaxes enforcement of South Korea’s National Security Act amid efforts to improve relations with North Korea and halt its nuclear weapon and missile programmes.
Thousands of students, citizens and defectors were prosecuted, jailed and even executed under the 1948 law, which bars “praising, inciting or propagating the activities of an anti-government organisation”. Most were accused of spying for Pyongyang or undertaking other pro-North activities.
Now, the rise of far-left, pro-Pyongyang activists exploiting the looser enforcement of the law has sparked a backlash from conservative groups and ordinary citizens that experts say could erode public support for Moon and his peace drive. Economic and jobs woes have already pushed Moon’s approval ratings to the lowest levels since his 2017 election.
Security officials and some defectors also say any abolition of the law could allow an influx of the North’s propaganda glorifying the Kim regime.

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