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Defense Researchers Need to Consult Superiors Before Interviews

Defense Researchers Need to Consult Superiors Before Interviews

Posted March. 07, 2005 22:32,   


Disputes arose over the recent revision of a rule on official reports made by the Ministry of National Defense (MND). The amended regulation states that when scheduling an interview with the media, researchers at research labs should notify in advance the heads of their departments and disclose what the interview will be about.

The National Defense Ministry said on March 7 that it revised and enforced its regulations on official reports on national defense starting on March 3 that say that during interviews on issues related to defense policies, researchers at the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis (KIDA) and the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) should see and check with heads of MND-related departments and consult its bureau of public information if needed.

The change in the regulations indicates the ministry is a stricter version of its previous one. It once said that “the Bureau of Public Information reviews details of interviews in advance in terms of major issues like national defense policies.” Some critics argue the revised rule may open a door to the ministry’s infringement of the people’s right to know by intentionally naming issues to be discussed by researchers in interviews as classified, and controlling them.

Under the regulation, researchers should have their works checked by the Ministry of National Defense before they submit their writings to the media.

An official from the ministry explained, “The revision was made for researchers at agencies under our ministry to get simpler and faster approval when they try to write for the media and to prevent careless citation of sensitive issues, including our policies on national defense.”

However, researchers at institutes under the MND are opposing the revised rule on the grounds that it amounts to an extreme control on their freedom of speech. One researcher from KIDA noted, “At a time like this, when there are a lot of voices that there are many security processes you have to undergo before submitting writings to the media, it appears to be an outdated idea to control interviews more.”

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com