IFJ Supports Industrial Action by Korean Journalists


The International 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 company presidents.


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”.


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950 


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries


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