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South Korean photojournalists Koh Young-Kwon and Lee Chung-Woo attacked in Beijing

South Korean President Moon Jae-In (L) shakes hands with China's Premier Li Keqiang (R) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, 15 December 2017
South Korean President Moon Jae-In (L) shakes hands with China's Premier Li Keqiang (R) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, 15 December 2017

NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 15 December 2017.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Journalists Association of Korea (JAK) in condemning the attack on two Korean photojournalists in Beijing, China on December 14, 2017. The IFJ and JAK call for an immediate apology from the Chinese authorities.

According to reports, two Korean photojournalists, Koh Young-Kwon, from Hankook Ilbo, and Lee Chung-Woo from Maeli Business News, were part of the media covering the first official visit of Korean President Moon Jae-In, when security guards attacked them. Koh and Lee were with the media, as President Moon visited the China National Convention Centre. As President Moon entered the first hall, security guards blocked the media from following. Koh and Lee were then removed from the Centre by more than 15 security guards, taken outside and attacked. Koh was pushed to the ground and kicked, while Lee was also kicked and attacked.

Other journalists and government officials with the Korean government tried to intervene, and even when they showed their press cards, the attack did not stop. Koh and Lee had to seek medical attention from the President's medical team; however Lee had to visit the hospital for additional help, as he had swelling on his face and his nose was bleeding.

The Korean government condemned the attack and have demanded an apology. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC) have also deplored the attack.

The Journalists' Association of Korea said: "The Journalists Association of Korea is outraged by the incident, which would be unacceptable even in normal times but happened during an official presidential visit. We have been seeking measures in regard to press freedom being violated. Even though China is sensitive about the outflow of information on domestic issues, we cannot accept violent behavior by Chinese guards particularly because it happened to Korean reporters who were accompanying the Korean president attending an event organized by Korean agencies. The Journalists Association of Korea views this incident as a serious suppression of our work and has decided to seek ways to collaborate with international media organizations to prevent such violations of the freedom of the press."

The IFJ said: "We stand in solidarity with our Korean colleagues in demanding an apology from the Chinese authorities. The situation for journalists, both local and foreign, in China continues to detoriate and is raising serious concerns about the safety and security of the media. Journalists should be able to report freely without fear of attack, however this incident violates the rights of the media."

We urge Zhao Kezhi, the Minister of Public Security Bureau of China, to conduct an investigation and report on how they are working to ensure such an incident never happens again.

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