Go to contents

Social Conflicts Seemingly Driven By News Media

Posted June. 25, 2003 21:46,   


President Roh Moo-hyun invited 228 family members of those who lost their lives in last year`s naval clash with North Korea in the West Sea, as well as veterans and bereaved family members of soldiers who lost their lives while on duty to Cheong Wa Dae.

During a luncheon with the president, participants complained that Koreans did not pay attention to those who lost their lives during the West Sea naval clash with the North because of massive media coverage of the death of two Korean school girls who were killed by a U.S. armored vehicle and candlelight protests in memory of the two schoolgirls. Also they said that they have been enraged by the fact that stories about courageous soldiers who fought against North Korea during the Korean War have disappeared from school textbooks.

In response to participants` complaints, the president said paying tribute to those who lost their lives for the nation and honoring their contribution to the nation are all Koreans` responsibility. He also added that during the process of eliminating deep-rooted hostility between the two Koreas, family members of those who contributed to the nation sometimes feel betrayed. It is our mission to take away anger, hostility, and hatred from our mind while pursuing peaceful reunification of the divided nation.

Touching on participants` compliants, the president said that “Koreans want to express their gratitude to soldiers who lost their lives as well as their family members during the naval clash and respect their contribution to the nation. I will visit Pyongtek in Gyonggi Province where victims of the West Sea naval clash were buried to pay my respects on June 29. Please do not take seriously the massive media coverage concerning the candlelight memorial services for the two schoolgirls. Many Koreans will remember the noble contribution paid by those victims forever.”

In this point, the president blamed the media for paying too much attention to the negative aspects of society to sell more newspapers. He also criticized the media`s attitude toward labor-management issues. “There has been remarkable progress in labor issues compared to that of last year. However, the media have been focusing on the negative aspects continuously without reporting any progress, probably due to an increase in selling newspapers,” said Mr. Roh.

President Roh said: “The country has to thank the victims who lost their lives because of the governments` wrongdoings and unlawful actions wholeheartedly such as victims of the 4.19 and 5.18 democratic movements. We should stop fighting over who made more contributions to the nation because more important than the nation is democracy.”

Jeong-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com