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Ministry of Construction and Transportation, KBS Lose Suits Filed Against Dong-A Ilbo

Ministry of Construction and Transportation, KBS Lose Suits Filed Against Dong-A Ilbo

Posted August. 04, 2004 22:17,   


The 25th civil affairs section of the Seoul Central District Court yesterday ruled against a lawsuit filed by Kim, the producer of a KBS entertainment program, and two other staff members who were asking for 50 million won compensation and a printed correction from Dong-A Ilbo and its news reporters, which, they claimed, were guilty of falsely reporting that their program beautified North Korea.

The court said, “It is hardly an acceptable charge that the newspaper reported false coverage. It just suggested its opinion by saying, ‘The contents of the program are not pertinent because the program unnecessarily stressed the fact that a magician used to

play in front of Kim Il-sung, and that a wristwatch bestowed from Kim Il-sung was the same as a decoration.’”

The court also said, “Comments and criticisms on public matters should be encouraged, and it is important to hold each other in check, especially among organs of expression,” adding, “The paper also did not defame the plaintiffs because the criticism is not ill-intended and related to matters of the public sphere.”

Kim, a producer of the KBS-2 TV program “The Saturday Project for Declarations on Freedom,” and other staff members had filed the lawsuit last October over a Dong-A Ilbo story titled, “Beautifying Kim Il-sung’s Wristwatch Provokes Controversy,” which criticized the emphasis on a magician’s career of playing before Kim Il-sung while the program introduced the career of the Korean magician residing in Japan.

On the same day, the court also ruled against a lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Construction and Transportation against Dong-A Ilbo, claiming, “The newspaper falsely reported its announcement on a comprehensive plan for housing and a project on building the nation’s rental houses.” The ministry has demanded a printed correction.

The court said, “The report contains the paper’s opinion on the back of the facts and deals with assumable stories,” adding, “Since a major housing development project like this greatly influences the nation’s lives, various criticisms must be accepted widely.”

The government announced its plan of building five million houses in 10 years starting from February of 2004. In regard to this, Dong-A Ilbo commented that “this plan is crafted to lure voters ahead of the general election, and is being pushed without any negotiation with relevant city and provincial governments.” Due to this report, the ministry filed the lawsuit.

Sang-Rok Lee myzodan@donga.com