Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Journalists’
Association of Korea (JAK) in supporting the industrial action of staff from
five Korean media organisations in response to alleged political interference
in media operations.
Staff from MBC, KBS, YTN,
the Yonhap News Agency and Kukminilbo, are currently on strike, demanding the
restoration of unbiased reportage and the resignation of government appointed
The Kukminilbo and MBC unions
commenced their action approximately 100 days ago, and were joined by the KBS
and Yonhap News Agency unions 30 days later.
The KBS and MBC unions erected
80 ‘Tents of Hope’ in Yeouido Park, Seoul, on May 7, and started an indefinite
‘sit in’ protest. The Yonhap News Agency union has subsequently set up tents in
front of their company building in a similar protest.
The JAK report that the
ongoing strike is having a dramatic impact on the journalists involved, many of
whom have been forced to take on part-time employment.
The unions action was
prompted by alleged political interference in the media by the current
Government, led by President Lee Myung-bak.
JAK reports reveal that
President Lee appointed pro-government individuals as presidents of national media
organisations, with orders to cut programs and reports that were critical of Korean
society or the government.
For example, the current
president of KBS, In-kyu Kim, was the media secretary for President Myung-bak
Lee during his presidential campaign in 2007, and Jae-chul Kim, the current
president of MBC, has openly participated in the current ruling party’s events and
maintains his pro-government stance.
Under current leadership
of the media organisations , journalists considered overly critical of the
government have been transferred to other departments or dismissed. So far,
five journalists have been dismissed and over 30 indicted, for ‘interfering in
the execution of company business’.
16 MBC union members and
three Kukminilbo union members have had damages lawsuits filed against them for
3 billion won (approximately USD 2.5 million) and 30 million won (approximately
USD USD 17,000) respectively.
“The IFJ joins the JAK in
supporting the efforts of Korea’s journalists to fight to restore the freedom
of the press and media independence”, IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
“We urge the Government of
Korea to take action to resolve this ongoing situation in a manner which
ensures the rights and interests of Korea’s journalists, the Korean public and
the principles of press freedom”.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131
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