The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is
concerned at reports of the arrest of four union leaders involved in the high
profile industrial dispute between YTN media workers and management in South Korea.
Journalists’ Association of Korea (JAK), an IFJ affiliate, reports that Mr
Jong-Myun Roh, chairman of the YTN union, Mr Duck-Soo Hyun, former chairman of
the YTN union, Mr Seoung-Ho Jo and Mr Jang-Hyuk Lim were arrested on March 22
and continue to be held by police.
reportedly said the four had failed to maintain an appointment to appear before
JAK representatives told the IFJ the four leaders had agreed with police on a
scheduled appearance on Thursday March 26.
strike by YTN staff was planned to be launched today to protest the failure of
YTN management to reach a compromise with the YTN labour union in the company’s
annual negotiation on salary and working conditions.
arbitrary arrest of four union leaders on the eve of a major YTN workplace
action points to direct intervention by the authorities to weaken planned
industrial activities by the YTN staff,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
Director Jacqueline Park.
YTN staff have been protesting for seven months to seek
guarantees of editorial independence at the broadcaster, following last year’s
appointment of Gu Bon-Hong as YTN president. Gu previously worked as an aide to
President, Myung-Bak Lee, which raised concerns among YTN staff about potential
attempts by the Government to exercise undue political influence on the
On February 24, the Korean Communications Commission (KCC)
confirmed the renewal of YTN’s broadcaster’s business licence after significant
delays to its scheduled renewal date in December 2008.
Ongoing protests by YTN media workers have resulted in
management dismissing some staff and initiating disciplinary action, complaints
to police and court injunctions. Six staff who were dismissed as a result of
the dispute remain without their jobs and the YTN union continues to fight for
that YTN management will initiate fresh talks with staff to seek a positive
resolution of the dispute, the IFJ condemns these latest actions by police.
“The IFJ urges the Government of South Korea and YTN
management to encourage open dialogue with YTN staff and union leaders to
resolve the dispute, including actions to reinstate sacked workers and end
disciplinary actions against staff,” Park said.
“Arresting union leaders who are acting in the interests of press
freedom and the Korean public is, however, unhelpful and unproductive,” Park
In February, journalists in Korea
including MBC announcers released a video on YouTube alerting the public to the
demise of freedom of expression in South Korea. The video is posted in
French, Chinese, English and Spanish and can be viewed at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f25m6DAvNPE.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide