Go to contents

U.S. Representatives, Letter to President Kim Worried About Korean Press Situation

U.S. Representatives, Letter to President Kim Worried About Korean Press Situation

Posted July. 18, 2001 20:25,   


8 U.S. representatives of the Democrats and Republicans sent a letter to President Kim Dae-Jung yesterday, expressing their anxieties about the Korean press situation.

The U.S. congresspersons including Reps. Benjamin Gilman and Dana Rohrabacher wrote in the letter, ``we are writing to express support for a vibrant democratic process in South Korea, as well as concern about continued reports of government pressure on independent media and journalists.``

The public expression of the U.S. congresspersons` concern about the tax probe seems to bring the conflicts between the Korean government and the Korean press to the open discussion in the U.S. Congress.

The letter to the President is accepted as exceptional because the frequent U.S. congresspersons` letter to the Korean President has disappeared since the launch of the civil government.

The letter indicated that ``on June 5, a spokesman for the Grand National Party warned, `the government is threatening the media firms with a rumor that the owner of the media firm would be arrested.` In addition, a former-Minister Roh Moo-hyun and Assemblymen from your ruling party have called the need `to wage a war against the press.` These incidents give us concern that with national elections approaching and vital press freedoms may be suppressed.``

Those U.S. congresspersons also remarked that they ``are aware that within few weeks after you[President Kim] publicly called for press freedom, the National Tax Service announced it would launch a full investigation of 23 Seoul-based news medias. [And ] the majority of the 400 Tax Service investigators are auditing the so called ``Big Three` of South Korean media, Chosun Ilbo, Joongang Ilbo and Dong-a Ilbo.

They also added, ``we hope that as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize you will emphasize to those in your administration who would restrict the continuation of a lively and vibrant print and electronic media that free expression is the cornerstone of a free people.``

Before the release of the result of the tax probe, Reps. Rohrabacher, Christopher Smith and Curt Weldon sent a letter to President Kim Dae-Jung in March, requesting the explanation about the Korean press situation and the `strong government agenda.

Han Ki-Heung eligius@donga.com