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[Opinion] IPI

Posted August. 30, 2007 07:59,   


These days, the main issue on the IPI web site is Korea. Along with Kazakhstan, Korea was mentioned four times on the 26 document lists related to the press that IPI issued this year alone. Korea was followed by Palestine (three times), and Russia, Nepal and Greece (two times). The international organization published four documents that deal with the Korean government’s pursuit of press controls in its May 30, June 1, June 25, and August 27 editions. Three of them were delivered to President Roh Moo-hyun. This is unprecedented.

The IPI was organized in 1951. It is the most distinguished press group in the world, and includes press firms and world famous journalists from about 120 nations. One of the main missions of the IPI is to encourage freedom of the press. Its yearly world press freedom report vividly shows the case of despotic states’ clamping down on the press and reporters who are struggling to achieve press freedom.

In the late 1950s, the Korean press tried to be a member of this organization. But its application was denied because of the lack of press freedom on the Korean Peninsula. The Korean press could not get membership until December 1960 after the April Revolution, an uprising that ousted then-president Lee Seung-man. In particular, the IPI had been a strong supporter of Korea when it struggled to realize the democratization of press freedom in the military dictatorship era. And its members didn’t spare encouragement in 1974 when the state repressed advertisements in this newspaper. The press group named Kim Sang-man, a then honorary president of this newspaper as a life-long honorary member of the IPI on May 12, 1986, saying, “He is a representative figure who shows indomitable spirit in a state where the freedom of press is continually jeopardized.”

But these days, it seems that the Korean government is keeping an uncomfortable relationship with the IPI. In a letter sent to President Roh, the organization delivered a message that the Korean people and the global press realize that the Korean government’s continuous hostility to the press is an undemocratic attempt to hinder the press from watching the people in power.” Hopefully the president will open his ears to this advice. It is disconcerting that Korea is the main concern of the IPI.

Bhang Hyeong-nam, hnbhang@donga.com