About the case:
On 6 June 2018, Memorial Day in South Korea, Korean artist Taeyong Jeong aka HIDEYES, spray-painted remnants of the Berlin Wall at Berlin Square in Seoul. He did so to celebrate the April 2018 inter-Korean Summit, a first step towards reconciliation between North and South Korea in eleven years. On 27 August 2018, Mr. Jeong was charged with destruction of public goods, under Article 141 of the Korean Penal Code. A civil lawsuit was equally lodged against him. AGL argues for the first time in a court of law that graffiti is a form of social and political commentary deserving of protection under Korean constitutional law, and international human rights law.
Read Jeong’s profile here:
In the news:
Legal strategy and international representation: AGL
Case coordinator: Prof. Kyung-Sin Park
Criminal defense: Hong-Seok Yang (lead lawyer); Teri Kang (second lawyer), Yigong Law
Civil litigation attorney: Teri Kang
Written submissions: Andra Matei, Don Karl, Katia Hermann
Expert witness: Kyoungmi Oh
Translators: Hyun-soo Lim, Kay Lee
Partner organisation: PEN America
The State gave me a public defender for my criminal trial but he did not understand me or my art. I was very depressed and scared I would go to prison and my life would be finished. I am Korean, but there was no one in my country that wanted to take the risk to lose their job to help me. I had no hope left when I contacted Artists-at-Risk Connection. They introduced me to Avant Garde Lawyers. Soon my life would change completely. Avant Garde Lawyers rapidly found people who could help me in Korea so that I had a lawyer to represent me in court immediately. I first met attorney Andra Matei who was the first to check my psychological state and quickly grasp the circumstances. There is a very surprising fact about this! She is not Korean and we do not speak the same language, but she had so much faith in me and my art. And this meant everything! I started to paint again and life came back to me. I met Professor Park Kyungsin, attorneys Yang Hongseok, Kang Teri and Dr Oh Kyeongmi, an art expert in Korea. Very sudden I had an army of people, attorneys, experts, translators, taking interest in my case and helping me.
When I read attorney Matei’s submissions I felt the luckiest person on earth. I cried. I cried at the trial, too. It felt as if I was in a movie.. There were all these people talking about me and my art so well and so convincingly. I was so touched.. I have no words to express my gratitude. I would be in prison right now if it wasn’t for their hardwork and belief in me. The fact that everybody worked for free makes this even more unbelievable. Thank you, God for knowing Avant Garde Lawyers!