Journalists at KBS protesting for press freedom
Around 1,000 journalists at Korea’s largest broadcaster today joined 700 others in a strike protesting against what they say is censorship by politically biased management.
The journalists from Korea Broadcasting Station joined colleagues from the country’s second biggest broadcaster, Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) in calling for the resignation of their CEOs, who they accuse of having censored coverage critical of President Lee Myung-bak.
They say management has limited coverage of stories ranging from protests against free trade agreements to a controversy surrounding the alleged "illegal" purchase of land for President Lee’s retirement home.
Workers from Yonhap Television News say they will join the strike on Thursday.
Management have called the strike illegal and ordered the workers not to join the strike.
MBC has already fired Park Sung-ho, the leader of the MBC reporters’ union.
Meanwhile, the People’s Coalition for Media Reform, an alliance of 48 civic and media groups, issued a statement yesterday in support of the strike.
The coalition called on MBC president, Kim Jae-cheul, who was appointed by the government, to step down, saying MBC had deliberately sought to water down stories regarding irregularities attributed to President Lee.
Press freedom in this country is "in serious crisis," coalition secretary-general Choo Hea-sun said today, citing a US-based watchdog’s downgrading of South Korean press freedom from "free" to "partly free" last year.
In its annual report, Freedom House criticized increased censorship and the practice of "parachuting in" presidential cronies to run the country’s major media stations.
Choo noted "the three major broadcasters have lost their ability to scrutinize" under President Lee’s government, saying the country "has lost the spirit of journalism."
Press freedoms slipping, report says