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‘Obscene’ French novel banned in South Korea

South Korea has issued a ban on an erotic novel by the 18th-century French nobleman and writer, the Marquis de Sade, for "extreme obscenity," a Seoul official and publisher said Wednesday.

'Obscene' French novel banned in South Korea
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The Korea Publication Ethics Commission, a state review board, told the local publisher of "The 120 Days of Sodom" to recall and destroy all copies currently at stores, senior board official Jang Tag-Hwan told AFP.

The translated version of the book, which details the sexual orgies of four wealthy French libertines who rape, torture and finally murder their mostly
teenage victims, hit stores in the South last month.

"A large portion of the book was extremely obscene and cruel, involving acts of sadism, incest, bestiality and necrophilia," Jang said.

The book's extensive portrayal of sexual acts involving minors played a part in designating it a "harmful publication," he said.

It was the first time for the commission to issue such a ban on a book — excluding cartoon material — since 2008, Jang added.

The publisher has vowed to appeal against what it labelled as a "death sentence on the book" and to take the case to court if the appeal is rejected.

"This book is not about promoting pornography and violence … it mocks and criticises the dark side of human nature behind such acts," Lee Yoong, senior editor of Dongsuh Press, told AFP.

He stressed that the book was widely available in many countries, including the United States, Britain, France and Japan.

"There are numerous pornographic books available everywhere. I can't understand why this book, worthy of academic research by psychiatrists or literary experts, should be treated so differently," Lee said.

The book will still be available while the ban is under appeal.

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France to ban e-scooters from pavements this September

France will ban electric scooters from pavements in September, the transport minister said, in a backlash against a surge of the commuter gizmos invading pedestrian areas.

France to ban e-scooters from pavements this September
A woman uses a Lime-S electric scooter in Paris on March 3. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard
An estimated 15,000 scooters operated by several companies have flooded the French capital since their introduction last year, a number projected to surge to 40,000 by the end of this year.
   
Elisabeth Borne told the Le Parisien daily in remarks published Saturday that anyone riding an e-scooter, monowheel, personal transporter or hoverboard on the pavement would be fined 135 euros ($151) from September.
   
Instead, they will have to use the street or dedicated cycling paths, “so pedestrians are no longer squeezed against walls”, the minister said. The development of the hugely popular personal transport vehicles “happened very fast and in a bit of an anarchic way”, she added.
 
Riders will still be allowed to push them on the pavement, so long as the engine is turned off.
   
Scooter rental services, from companies like US-based Lime and Bird — and most recently ride-hailing giant Uber — have proved wildly popular in many cities. The French move follows a decision by Peru to ban motorised scooters from pavements and pedestrian areas from this week.
   
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo had last month already announced measures to protect pedestrians from e-scooters, “especially older people and children”. She said parking in such a way as to obstruct traffic or pedestrians will 
mean a 35-euro fine — but the Paris city council has pledged to build parking spots for 2,500 scooters.
   
Berlin's city hall has also drawn up tough new rules for e-scooters, while Spanish tourist hotspot Barcelona has banned scooter rental services completely.
   
More than 1,500 people have been treated for injuries from using battery-powered electric scooters in the United States since the craze began in late 2017, a Consumer Reports survey showed in February.
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