중앙데일리

Invasion of Press Kick in the Face of Democracy

June 28,2000
Some members of the Association of Korean Disabled Veterans Suffering from Side Effects from Agent Orange forcibly entered the Hankyoreh Shinmun building, damaging facilities and assaulting employees. As a result, operations at the newspaper were disrupted.

The members of the veterans association insist that Hankyoreh had reported that Korean soldiers had killed innocent people during the Vietnam War and as a result had tainted the association’s image.

The veterans claim that the Hankyoreh report has negatively influenced a lawsuit put forth by the association seeking compensation for health problems arising from America’s spraying of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

There are countless possibilities for controversy arising from press reports in our modern society, where differing points of view are freely voiced - making fairness, accuracy and objectivity requirements for the press. However, even if the press tries to maintain these principles, it’s still possible that reports can damage people it did not set out to harm. In these cases, there are various legal countermeasures to reach a solution, from giving counter-arguments to instituting a lawsuit.

It’s not a stretch to understand the feelings of the veterans, who have been affected by the story in Hankyoreh Shinmun. However, the measures that were taken, besieging the newspaper’s offices, are certainly a blow to the liberal democracy achieved by the sacrifices of fellow soldiers. The issue should have been dealt with through the appropriate channels - legally and rationally.

Freedom of the press is at the heart of democracy. Free investigations, reporting and commentary activities of the press must be protected under any circumstances. The veterans’ actions, to attack the newspaper and disturb its publication, because of a difference in opinion, are a clear oppression of the freedom of the press.

I would like to emphasize that the press must speak for the various segments in society. If there is a conservative press, it follows that there must also be a progressive press. The variety is as invaluable as is the freedom of the press. It’s necessary to recognize and respect the differences in opinion that color each of the dailies in this country.

The universal belief of freedom of the press should be defended to the end, while still acknowledging the possibility that the media’s own narrow perspective may have triggered the recent events.

by Shin Ye-ri




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