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[Opinion] White Paper on Oppression of the Media

Posted March. 11, 2008 03:05,   


A white paper on the Roh Moo-hyun administration’s five-year oppression of the media has been published. The 652-page report by the Korea News Editors Association illustrates a “dark age” for media on its cover, which shows reporters typing on their PC notebooks under candlelight against a dark background. Seeing the white paper page after page is like watching a documentary film that shows the unforgettable violations of the people’s and the media’s right to know and freedom of the press. Roh first displayed his hostility toward the media as head of the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, saying “We need courageous politicians who dare wage war against the media.” His five-year term was marked by a constant battle against the media.

Roh established two state-controlled Internet media: “Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office) Briefing” and “State Affairs Briefing,” with tax money and used them as his main forces to attack the media. He personally served as managing editor and reporter of the two media. He posted his writing on the bulletin board or replied to articles with comments such as “Excellent job.” He even meddled with the editorial policy and content. The white paper names the five leading figures behind the shutdown of government media rooms: Roh’s chief of staff Lee Byung-wan; Lee Baek-man and Yoon Seung-yong, Roh’s senior presidential secretaries for public information; Kim Chang-ho, former head of the Government Information Agency; and Yang Jung-chul, Roh’s communications secretary. Roh, however, was the one who supervised and directed the five officials.

Now residing at Bongha Village, the former president is apparently aware of the white paper. He put up an article titled “Did the Participatory Government oppress the media?” on his recently launched Web site. In the article, Roh proudly said his order to discontinue reading the early evening editions of morning papers and the introduction of an open briefing system were among his great feats. He prohibited journalists from making contact with government officials, and is now asking, “Do reporters who were kicked out of media rooms really have nowhere else to go?” According to this logic, listening to an open briefing at a renovated news transmission room is a part of the Advanced Media Support System. Roh seems set on waging another war against the media from Bongha Village.

Those in power innately hate the media for criticizing and monitoring their abuse of power. U.S. President Richard Nixon, who stepped down due to the Watergate scandal, even ordered wiretapping on columnists. President Lee Myung-bak should also read the white paper and use Roh as a good example not to follow.

Editorial writer Yook Jeong-soo (sooya@donga.com)