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Media workers strike for freedom of speech
Korean journalist unions say media executives censor the newsMBC union members stage a sit-in protest earlier this month
- May 10, 2012
Reporter Lee Yong-ma was one of seven workers dismissed by the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, for refusing to end a strike that began on January 30. Another 103 have receivedÂ â€śsevereâ€ť reprimands.
It would appear that Lee was among those singled out for dismissal because he also handles public relations for the MBC trade union. But despite his sacking, his lack of pay since January and his motherâ€™s concern, he is determined to fight on.
â€śI am fighting for freedom of speech,â€ť he said. â€śWinning the fight is the only way I can repay my parents.â€ť
The 700 media workers who walked out at MBC were followed by another 1,000 who went on strike at state-owned KBS, the countryâ€™s largest broadcaster, on March 6.
Over the next 10 days, they were joined by workers from the YTN cable news service and the Yonhap News Agency.
The unions are calling for the resignation of senior executives, whom they accuse of censoring any coverage that is critical of President Lee Myung-bak.
They have also raised the suspicion that MBC president Kim Jae-cheol has misappropriated company funds. Kim denies the allegation strongly but Chung Young-ha, the MBC union leader, said: â€śWe will root out the truth through diligent reporting.â€ť
The strike action escalated on May 7, when union members erected 80 tents and started a sit-in protest in a park near the MBC and KBS offices in Seoul.
The Catholic Priests' Association For Justice showed its support by holding a Mass at the protest site.
Association spokesman Father Simon Chun Jong-hun said: â€śWe must rebuild justice. We cannot stop fighting for freedom of speech and independence for broadcasters.â€ť
Religious leaders back media strike