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[Editorial] Cheong Wa Dae`s Inappropriate Response to Dong-a

[Editorial] Cheong Wa Dae`s Inappropriate Response to Dong-a

Posted September. 22, 2003 23:06,   


The way in which Cheong Wa Dae responded to the Dong-a daily`s report on a suspicious real estate transaction involving First Lady Kwan Yang-sook seems to be unreasonable. Reportedly, Lee Byung-wan, the public relations secretary to the president, has instructed his staff not to respond to Dong-a`s request for news coverage related to the issue, citing an ill-intended report as reason. The presidential secretary seems to have gone too far. Blocking media outlets that produce vital information related to state affairs from making reports amounts to a serious violation of the freedom of speech, leading to undermining people`s right to know.

The Dong-a`s news article was aimed to raise a suspicion over whether First Lady Kwan had sold an apartment before registration to seek profits and whether the president had reported all his assets to the authorities and to urge the government to unveil all the truth over the suspicion. Raising suspicions over things related to the president`s past and present is one of the media`s functions to monitor whether presidential authority is properly exercised. After the daily`s article, Cheong Wa Dae acknowledged the transaction of the apartment in question had been omitted when the president had reported his asset to the authority but there was nothing wrong with the resale of the apartment. In turn, the Dong-a daily reported Cheong Wa Dae`s response without adding to or subtracting from what it had told reporters.

Presidential secretary Lee should be hold responsible for his irresponsible remarks against the Dong-a daily. He said the article had a veiled aim to disgrace and hurt the president and these ill-intended misreports are dangerous social weapons. His remarks have tarnished the reputation of the Dong-a daily which have served as a public institution over the past 83 years.

Cheong Wa Dae`s hostile attitude towards specific news media companies has reached a worrisome level. It is undesirable that the government and the media outlets take a head-on collision course even though they have to maintain a sound state of tension. We will wait and see how such strained relations between the government and the media will be improved.