Government Must Disclose Summit Details

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Government Must Disclose Summit Details

Following the success of the historic inter-Korean summit June 13 to 15 in Pyongyang, a frenzy of newspaper articles and press reports have been interpreting and analyzing the few details to come out of the Pyongyang summit.

President Kim Dae-jung asserted on June 21 the importance of informing the public with an accurate account of the talks in order to consolidate summit-related opinions from both the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) and the people.

However, the focus of the nation has turned from the actual details of the Pyongyang meeting and has landed squarely on the media’s reporting.

At the heart of the issue is a JoongAng Ilbo exclusive report titled, “Kim Jong-il, Chairman of the National Defense Commission, to Revise Workers’ Party Pact,’ which was featured on the newspaper’s front page on June 20. Subsequently, Chong Wa Dae spokesman Park Joon-young indefinitely suspended JoongAng Ilbo’s Blue House correspondent citing the daily’s failure to honor a media promise of a press “embargo” on certain summit details.

Spokesman Park points out that information in the article was leaked from a June 19 briefing given at a dinner with publishers from the Korean press at Chong Wa Dae.

However, Park’s claim that the JoongAng Ilbo reporter broke the press embargo is far from the truth. According to the newspaper, the story published on June 20 was gleaned from an MDP lawmaker on the morning of June 19 and that JoongAng Ilbo had given a great deal of attention to the accuracy of the article prior to its printing.

Nevertheless, Chong Wa Dae continues to ignore the fact that the article was not written following the dinner briefing and the government continues to define the report as “having a negative effect on inter-Korean relations.”

In answer to Chong Wa Dae’s orders to keep summit details off-the-record, JoongAng Ilbo says, “The public will only support the government’s follow-up measures to the June 15 South-North Joint Declaration after they have been informed of North Korean initiatives.”

By expressing their regrets over the media report, politicians are only drawing attention to the government’s nonsensical position that it be the sole proprietor of information on the summit.




by Lee Jong-min

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