Let’s say that a 145-year-old oil painting is on display in the Orsay Museum in France. Wouldn’t most people would consider it to be art, even if it displayed full nudity? Now put that same picture on a blog, and it instantly becomes pornography.
That seems to the the point that Park Kyung-sin was trying to make when he posted the painting “L’Origine du Monde” (Origin of the World) [NOT SAFE FOR WORK!] by French painter Gustave Courbet on his blog.
Park was one of nine members of the Korea Communications Standards Commission which ordered a portal site operator to remove photos of a man’s penis from his own blog. Park, a Korea University law professor, disagreed with the decision, and in protest posted the famous (?) painting on his own blog (though he later removed it). He explained his actions thus:
“The photos were like this painting, Origin of the World which everybody can see at the Orsay. They neither contained any sexual narrative, nor implied sexual intercourse, except for just showing human genitals. … But it is a different issue concerning the state controlling its people and their opinions. Such control should be limited to cases causing damage to all people. … So, it may be right if only adults are allowed to see them. But if we define them as lewd material, even adults cannot see them and they are expelled from the legal boundary of expression.”