IFJ Condemns Police Action in South Korea Media Dispute

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed

by the ongoing detention of a senior media union leader in South Korea, and fears management of

the YTN broadcaster and the authorities are colluding to disrupt negotiations to

resolve a long-running industrial dispute.

 

YTN union

chairman Jong-Myun Roh is still in police detention after being arrested with Duck-Soo

Hyun, former chairman of the YTN union, Seoung-Ho Jo and Jang-Hyuk Lim on March

22, the day before YTN staff were to take strike action, according to the

Journalists’ Association of Korea (JAK), an IFJ affiliate.

 

The other

union representatives were released after a local court rejected their arrest

warrants.

 

At the time of the arrests, JAK representatives

told the IFJ the union leaders had already agreed with police to answer a

summons to appear today.

 

“Police

intervention in a non-violent industrial negotiation process signifies a lack

of respect for applying democratic principles to resolve disputes about workers’

rights through peaceful negotiation,” IFJ Asia-Pacific

Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

“A

reporter was arrested because he promoted political neutrality in journalism,''

JAK said.

 

YTN staff have been protesting for eight 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

South Korea’s

President, Myung-Bak Lee, which raised concerns among YTN staff about potential

attempts by the Government to exercise undue political influence on the

broadcaster.

 

Management has responded to the protest actions by dismissing

some staff and initiating disciplinary action, complaints to police and court

injunctions.

 

The IFJ condemns the management’s continued resort to police

action, which is contrary to the IFJ’s advice in a letter to President Lee and

YTN management in February which called on management to refrain from

complaints to police and court injunctions.

 

The IFJ again appeals to YTN management to show good will

and to negotiate fairly and openly with staff to resolve the dispute in a

manner that serves quality journalism and the best interests of the Korean

public.

 

“The use of police power to remove a key participant in the

YTN negotiation process reinforces the concerns of YTN staff about political

influence at the broadcaster,” Park said.

 

For the IFJ’s recommendations on a resolution to the

dispute, see:

IFJ Letter to YTN & Mr Gu Feb09.pdf  

 

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide