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Call for re-instatement of dismissed South Korean journalists

UPDATE from IFJ: IFJ calls for reinstatement of journalists dismissed by Korean broadcasters (10 November 2013)

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and its member the Journalists' Associations of Korea (JAK), have launched a campaign calling for the reinstatement of journalists dismissed by Korean broadcasting companies YTN and MBC and a transparent system of electing the country's company presidents.

On 16 April 2013, the IFJ sent a letter to newly elected Korean President Park Geun-hye, strongly urging her to intervene to secure the reinstatement of the journalists to their previous positions. According to the JAK, the 17 journalists were dismissed in 2012 by the companies following a protest by media staff against alleged government interference in the media.

Signed by IFJ President, Jim Boumelha, the letter has also called for the removal of the YTN president and the swift appointment of an MBC president.

"We hope that your new administration will endeavour to repair the damage done by re-instating the dismissed journalists to their previous jobs," says Mr Boumelha in the letter, "and take further action to restore freedom of the press and media independence by establishing a transparent system for electing company presidents, including the removal of YTN President Bae Seok-kyu and the swift election of an MBC President."

At the time of the media protest in early 2012, which involved staff from five media companies, the IFJ and its member unions expressed concern when then-President Lee Myung-bak appointed pro-government individuals as presidents of national media organisations, with orders to cut programs and reports that were critical of Korean society or the government.

Journalists and media workers demanded their removal, and as part of the campaign set up 80 "tents of hope" in Yeouido Park, Seoul, in a sit in protest that lasted for weeks. The dispute was eventually resolved, but the decision to dismiss many journalists remains in force.

"Journalists who were then considered to be overly critical of government were transferred to other departments or just summarily dismissed," notes Mr Boumelha in the letter.

He adds: "We agree with our member union, the Journalists' Association of Korea, that editorial independence is crucial for the future of democracy in Korea and support their effort to ensure the rights of Korea's journalists and the interest of Korean citizens by upholding the principles of press freedom."

Read IFJ's letter to the newly elected Korean president:
southkorea_ifj_letter.doc (217 KB)

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