Asia-Pacific Media Unions Demand Resolution of Korea Press Freedom Crisis

 

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), UNI Global

Union and their affiliates across Asia-Pacific are gravely concerned for

journalists and media workers in South Korea who have been sacked

and subjected to punitive disciplinary measures due to their courageous

struggle for media independence under the Government of Lee Myung Bak.

 

Thirty-eight international and Asia-Pacific unions and associations of media,

graphical and entertainment workers attending the joint IFJ and

UNI Global meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on September 29-30 demanded the Lee

Government immediately act to restore press freedom in South Korea and

direct broadcasters YTN and Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to reinstate

sacked journalists.

 

Eight journalists – including six

from YTN and two from MBC – remain dismissed from their jobs because of their

role in advocating for press freedom and independent media at the

organisations.

 

About 160 more journalists have

suffered disciplinary sanctions since the Lee Government was inaugurated in

2008. The sanctions include suspensions, pay cuts,

warnings and probation orders against workers at YTN, MBC and Korean

Broadcasting System (KBS).

 

Affiliates and associates of the IFJ and UNI called

on the Government of South Korea to make a public pledge to respect editorial

independence of state-controlled media companies, including YTN, MBC and KBS.

 

The 51 assembled leaders and representatives of IFJ Asia-Pacific, UNI Global Union, UNI-APRO,

UNI-MEI (Media, Entertainment and Arts) and UNI Graphical & Packaging

supported a resolution stating, “We demand the Government of South

Korea takes immediate action to end repression of journalists and media workers

who seek to defend the right to an independent and critical media that serves

the public interest.

 

“Members

of our unions and organisations across the region and the world are appalled by

the backward steps on press freedom in South Korea since 2008, and will be

closely observing the situation at YTN, MBC and KBS.”

 

The six YTN journalists, all members

of the house union and the Journalists’ Association of Korea (JAK), an IFJ

affiliate, were sacked on October 6, 2008 – almost exactly two years ago.

 

The Seoul District Court ruled in

November 2009 that the dismissals were an abuse of management’s disciplinary

discretion.

 

The court ordered that YTN house

union leader Noh Jong Myeon, reporters Hyun Duk Soo, Jo Seung Ho, Woo Jang

Kyun, Jeong Yoo Shin and camera operator Kwon Seok Jae be reinstated and

receive full compensation for the period during which they were not permitted

to work.

 

YTN management has refused to comply

and is appealing the decision.

 

In June 2010,

MBC sacked two journalists - MBC union leader and producer Lee Keun Heng and

Jinju MBC union leader and JAK member Jeong Dae Kyun - on the pretext that they

were organizing a strike.

 

The heart

of the problems at these broadcasters is the concerns of journalists and their

unions about government controls on state media and their diminished

independence due to strong ties between high-ranking government officers and

media company managements.

 

Since the

Lee Government’s inauguration, former presidential aides and advisers have been

appointed to senior positions at major state-controlled media companies,

despite the objections of journalists seeking to defend the independence of the

broadcasters.

 

Affiliates of the IFJ and UNI demand

YTN withdraw its appeal against the November court order and immediately

reinstate the six sacked journalists in accordance with the court ruling.

 

They note with

concern that YTN has failed to honour its April 2009 commitments in an

agreement between management and the house union that internal mechanisms be

established to ensure editorial independence at the broadcaster. The agreement

was made on the understanding that the union would end protests against the

appointment of Ku as CEO and that YTN would abide by the court decision and reinstate

the sacked journalists.

 

The IFJ and UNI call on YTN’s

management to end the dispute in accordance with the spirit of the April 2009

agreement, as urged by the IFJ throughout 2009.

 

The IFJ and UNI further call on

MBC’s management to guarantee editorial independence and press freedom at the

broadcaster, and reinstate the sacked journalist and producer.

 

 

The resolution was adopted by the

following organisations on 30 September 2010, Bali:

 

  1. International Federation of Journalists Asia-Pacific
  2. UNI Global Union
  3. UNI Media, Entertainment & Arts
  4. UNI Graphical & Packaging
  5. UNI APRO
  6. Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association
  7. Aliansi Jurnalis Independen, Indonesia
  8. All India Newspaper Employees’ Federation
  9. Asosiasi Serikat Pekerja Indonesia
  10. Association of Taiwan Journalists
  11. Bangkok Post LU
  12. Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists
  13. Engineering, Printing, and Manufacturing Union, New Zealand
  14. Federation of Independent Media Workers’ Unions, Indonesia
  15. Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka
  16. Hong Kong Journalists’ Association
  17. Indian Journalists’ Union
  18. Journalists’ Association of Korea
  19. Maldives Journalists’ Association
  20. Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, Australia
  21. Maharashtra Media Employees’ Union
  22. National Alliance of Broadcasting Unions, Philippines
  23. National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
  24. National Union of Journalists, India
  25. National Union of Journalists, Malaysia
  26. National Union of Media Workers, Korea
  27. National Union of Newspaper Workers, Malaysia
  28. Nepal Press Union
  29. Nepal Television Employees’ Association
  30. New Zealand Public Service Association             
  31. Pacific Freedom Forum, Pacific Islands
  32. Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists
  33. Shimbun Roren - Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers’ Unions
  34. Sindicato dos Jornalistas de Timor Leste
  35. Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association
  36. System Television Malaysia Berhad Employees Union - KSKSTMB  
  37. Timor Lorosae Journalists’ Association
  38. Union of Public Services, Nepal

 

 

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ represents

over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide

 

Find the IFJ

on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific