Arrest warrant for drawing rat on G20 promotion poster?

By Bae Ji-sook

The prosecution sought an arrest warrant for a 40-year-old man who drew a picture of a rat on a G20 Seoul Summit promotion poster but the request was rejected by the court.

Internet users and observers are denouncing the administration for over-reacting to what many people consider is satire.

According to the Namdaemun Police Station, a 40-year-old university instructor identified only as Park and his friend were apprehended Sunday for drawing a black rat on seven of such posters with spray paint near Lotte Department Stores in central Seoul early in the morning.

The added image to the poster gave people the impression that a huge rat was holding the lantern symbolizing the G20 Summit with the words, “The world is watching Korea.”

The image of a rat is often used to mock President Lee Myung-bak by liberals.

Police asked the prosecution to file arrest warrants for the two for violence and damaging public assets.

However, the Seoul Central District Court rejected the request saying that there was no risk of them fleeing. Generally, drawing pictures or graffiti on public facilities is subject to a fine.

Park reportedly said, “I thought the government was making too much of a fuss about a trifling matter. Any G20 country can host the Summit and it is not much of a big deal. I drew a rat because in Korean the pronunciation, ‘Jee (rat in Korean)’ is similar to that of the English letter ‘G.’ It was an act of humor.”

His lawyer, Park Ju-min said, “It seems that the police are trying to make an example out of Park.”

“The G20 is a very important event for the country and tarnishing its promotional poster is not acceptable,” Cho Chang-bae, who filed for the warrant, told a local daily. “We felt that he was trying to defame the global event.”