Go to contents

`No Such a Hero at Home . . .` Washington Post DJ Editorial

`No Such a Hero at Home . . .` Washington Post DJ Editorial

Posted August. 23, 2001 09:29,   


On August 21, the Washington Post editorial noted that people abroad are surprised by President Kim Dae Jung`s tax investigation and arrest of major newspaper owners since he has been internationally recognized as a long-time critic of military dictatorship and protector of human rights. The following is the editorial titled `Not Such A Hero At Home`.

Korean President Kim Dae Jung is highly regarded internationally as a courageous protector of human rights. At times, he even risked his own life to oppose military dictators. After he became president, he opened talks with North Korea and received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yet, the picture at home would shock the foreigners who praise him. The most recent incident involves the arrest of the heads of two newspaper companies which strongly criticized the Kim Dae Jung administration.

The arrests constitute President Kim`s harshest measure, in spite of his long time claim to uphold the freedom of the Korean press. He insists that the measure was necessary because the papers evaded taxes and broke the tax laws.

Last week, a Blue House spokesperson said, ``We hope that the press will reform from past courses of action which were inappropriate and restore the readers` confidence.`` In other words, this incident has nothing to do with the papers` criticisms of President Kim`s Sunshine Policy, of the ruling party, or Kim`s plummeting popularity in recent polls.

The Kim administration tried to recruit the support of labor unions and civic organizations in the fight with the press, but their participation could not have appeared more pathetic. We do not know the details of how the press broke the tax law. We, however, agree with the International Press Institute`s view that the investigations were clearly intended to intimidate critical media voices.

In last month`s International Herald Tribune, Georgetown University Professor of Asian Studies, David Steinberg said, `Fines levied on a regular newspaper company can potentially ruin the company`.

President Kim only has 16 months left before the next presidential elections. According to the law, he cannot run for another term. It will be very regrettable if President Kim`s last act in his long career turns out to be no different than the actions of past leaders.

Lee Jong-Hoon taylor55@donga.com