October 24, 2008 / 6:59 AM / 11 years ago

South Korea military going to court over Chomsky

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s Defense Ministry, which maintains a force of about 670,000 troops to fend off an invasion from the communist North, also feels threatened by the likes of American linguist Noam Chomsky.

The ministry said on Friday it may punish some officers for harming “the military’s mental power” by trying to bring books it considers too leftist onto its bases.

The ministry earlier this year banned 23 books from the country’s military facilities include two volumes by Chomsky and the best seller “Bad Samaritans” by a Korean professor at Cambridge University, Chang Ha-joon.

A group of officers said the move was censorship and appealed to the country’s highest court to overturn the ban. They argue that since soldiers are free to read the books off base, they should be allowed to bring them into their barracks.

The officers said the rule violated constitutional rights.

“A team of investigators will be formed on the conduct by the officers of bringing the constitutional appeal,” Defense Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae said.

The comments followed Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee’s warning on Thursday that the officers made a mistake in taking action against the military rule designed to ensure soldiers are equipped with the mental strength as well as combat readiness.

South Korea is technically at war with North Korea which has 1.2 million troops.

Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Sanjeev Miglani

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