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

 

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific