By on August 2, 2010

The Korea Times reports that the Seoul Central District court has ordered the union of a subcontractor of Hyundai-Kia to remove a picture from the walls of the union headquarters. A court order? To take down a picture? Why?

Well, the object of the litigation is a caricature of Hyundai CEO, Chung Mong-Koo. It depicts the leader of one of Korea’s most powerful chaebol as The Joker from Batman. According to the Korea Times, they painted Chung Mong-Koo’s eyes black and his mouth red. (Sorry, no picture of the incriminating picture, the Korea Times immediately complied with the court order.)

“The banner is a defamatory remark on Chairman Chung. Although unionists claim that it is an honest reflection of the character of the chairman, we cannot agree with their assertion, based on the materials they submitted,” decreed the court. To give some context to this affair, the workers of Donghee, the subcontractor in question, didn’t just do this picture for a laugh. They were protesting against Hyundai-Kia about unfair dismissals. They claim that Chung Mong-Koo hired outsourcing companies and fired workers when they attempted to set up a trade union.

Can you imagine the court hearing over the picture? “Your honor, I put it to this court, that the workers of Donghee, willfully and with malice of forethought, created this sickening picture of Chung Mong-Koo as The Joker from Batman. I present, exhibit A!” “Objection! As this is an alleged copyright violation, this court lacks jurisdiction! My client requests a change of venue to the Burbank Superior Court!”

Strange turn of events: To illustrate the story, instead of presenting the picture of the Joker, the Korea Times uses a picture of Chairman Chung shaking the hand of Alabama Governor Riley. (Above.)  What’s that supposed to mean? Who’s the joker here? Someone call a lawyer! A lawyer? This is an international incident! Call out the National Guard!

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