South Korea makes first conviction under hate laws

Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:06am EST
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SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean court handed down the country's first conviction under a hate crimes law on Friday when it fined a man who racially abused an Indian professor on a commuter bus.

The case was scrutinized closely by local media, which said it raised questions about how South Korea's largely homogenous society treats its growing foreign population.

The Incheon District Court, west of Seoul, fined a Korean man identified by his family name Park 1 million won ($865) for telling the professor to move away from him on the bus because he was "dirty" and "smelly." The incident took place in July.

South Korean lawmakers have been working on new legislation that would expand racial discrimination laws, while the government wants to lure more skilled foreign workers to help boost the population in the country with the lowest birth rate in the developed world.

($1=1156.8 Won)

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Christine Kim; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner and Paul Tait)