The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed by reports of self-censorship and heavy handed treatment of journalists at Sisa Journal, a major weekly magazine in Korea.
According to the Journalists Association of Korea, over the past seven months there has been ongoing conflict between media staff and the magazine’s President Keum, Chang-Tae.
The conflict started when the President allegedly scrapped a story about the large Korean company Samsung Group without discussing the decision with editorial staff.
Journalists at the magazine who questioned the decision and expressed alarm at Keum’s dictatorial approach have faced a range of severe punishments, with a total of 17 journalists disciplined, including the instant dismissal of the editor and two cases of ‘suspension from office for life’.
“This heavy-handed behavior – both the self-censorship and the unfair penalties for journalists who stand up to and question editorial interference - is deeply disturbing,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
Keum’s decision to scrap the story allegedly occurred following a meeting with Samsung Group. Amongst the 17 journalists disciplined by Keum, one has been dismissed, three have been suspended from the office for life and two faced suspension for three months.
“The sacking and suspensions are grossly unfair.’
“As a result, journalists’ livelihoods are at risk for doing nothing more than what the profession demands: speaking out against editorial interference,” Warren said.
“The IFJ calls for all journalists to be returned to their normal duties immediately and for Mr Keum to issue an immediate apology.”
The IFJ will continue to work with its Korean affiliates, the National Union of Media Workers (NUMW) and the Journalists Association of Korea (JAK), to promote press freedom and journalistic rights in Korea.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries