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Lousy PPO and GIA

Posted May. 24, 2007 03:34,   


The Presidential PR Office (PPO) and Government Information Agency (GIA) have been spearheading the government’s hard-line policies against the press. They have been at odds with the press, at times treating them badly.

The PPO is at the helm of the government’s policies toward the press-

There are five secretaries in the PPO (PR planning, government affairs, report support, domestic press, and overseas press). Chief secretary Yun Seung-yong, who used to be a political correspondent for the Hankook Daily, was poached last December from his post as the head of the Defense Agency for Public Information Services to replace his predecessor, Lee Baek-mahn, who was sacked after posting an article that read “This is the worst time to buy a house…,” on the Cheong Wa Dae website.

The PR Planning Office is responsible for the government’s press policies; this is why the head of the PR Planning Office is considered to be the most powerful secretary.

Yang used to be a labor correspondent and covered Chairman Jeong Tae-soo of Hanbo Group when the Hanbo scandal made headlines. Last year, he prompted controversy over the forced dismissal of the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Yoo Jin-ryong. He is regarded as a hardliner against the press.

Head of the Domestic Press Office Jeong Gu-cheol, who analyzes the tone of arguments of domestic newspaper articles and news reports, is also a former labor correspondent.

One incumbent Cheong Wa Dae official said, “Since the key role of head of the PPO is to rebut the press’ arguments, rather than coming to a compromise, incumbent journalists are rarely tapped.”

Kim Jong-min, the presidential secretary for Government Affairs, worked for the Nail Daily and the Weekly Newsmagazine. He is in charge of the operation of ‘Cheong Wa Dae briefing.’ Last year he planned the controversial anti-real estate speculation measures in “bubble 7 areas,” where real estate speculation is rampant.

Of the 26 administrators working for the PPO, there are only two whom were once correspondents for daily newspapers. There are not many administers who can understand the workings of newspaper coverage, so many point out that the PPO cannot and should not make press policies.

The PPO, the shock troop-

Director of the GIA, Kim Chang-ho, used to be an academic correspondent for the JoongAng Daily. He has a closer relationship with young Cheong Wa Dae officials and is an influential figure in government PR.

In March 2005, he was inaugurated as the director and pressured Audiovisual-PR chief Jang Dong-hun to resign, sparking controversy.

Deputy Director of the Agency, Ahn Young-bae, made headlines by leaving a sexual parody of the Grand National Party leader, Park Geun-hye, posted on the Cheong Wa Dae website for quite some time. He was held accountable for the incident and was dismissed; only to be hired again a month or so later and eventually promoted.

Disorderly PPO-

The PPO and GIA claim that they are leading the anti-press drive in the government, through means such as boycotting the coverage of unfavorable news papers. According to a directive from the PPO, the GIA sent guidelines entitled “Criteria for Policy PR” to all government offices to effectively prevent public officials from giving interviews or contributions to unfavorable newspaper coverage.

The PPO encourages government offices to dismiss damaging news reports as incorrect reporting. In the same vein, last year the GIA urged government offices to make comments on new reports.

Last year, the PPO took issue with some editorials and op-ed columns of the Dong-A Ilbo and the Chosun Ilbo and ordered government officials not to comply with interview requests from those papers.

In the meantime, the GIA was criticized last year when it manipulated an interview given by a college student and posted it in an attempt to rebut negative articles against KORUS FTA talks.

jyw11@donga.com sys1201@donga.com