On the 35th Anniversary of the Founding of Joongang Ilbo

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On the 35th Anniversary of the Founding of Joongang Ilbo

Korean society is enveloped in a sense of crisis, anxiety, and mistrust because political leaders have failed to understand the wind of change that is blowing through the country. They have also been reluctant to accept the current reality. Since the Kim Dae-jung government came into power it has become embroiled in numerous scandals, the latest of which is a loan scandal implicating the former culture minister, Park Jie-won.

The president and the ruling party are the engines that propell domestic politics, economy, society, and culture. It is particularly important, therefore, that the president should practice the virtue of listening to public opinion. For instance, the recent stock market slump and the doctors' strikes came about because figures from the ruling party failed to understand the true nature of the problems or were loath to express their real opinions. It is no wonder then that the public has turned its back on the current government.

Today is the Joongang Ilbo's 35th birthday. We believe that the foremost duty of the news media is to suggest the correct path for the government by covering news accurately and providing appropriate commentary. Naturally the government does not welcome sharp criticism. During the Korea's military dictatorships, direct pressures were placed on the press in an attempt to gag it. More recently, the current government persecuted the Joongang Ilbo last year, using more roundabout methods. We would like to make it clear once again that the Joongang Ilbo makes a promise to its readers: We will stick to the principles of a free press, no matter what kind of pressure the government may put on us.

Nevertheless, we will not try to find fault with the government simply for the sake of it. The authorities and the press need to maintain a healthy relationship. Joongang Ilbo hopes to help create a brighter society where the top priority is placed on human beings. With this goal in mind, this newspaper will do away with outdated thoughts and customs, making efforts to promote a future based on globalization, as befits the 21st century.

In these times of change, Koreans have three urgent propositions in front of them: globalization, inter-Korean reconciliation, and reform. In terms of globalization, this newspaper will concentrate on disseminating the universal principle of integrating a liberal democracy with the free market system. Inter-Korean cooperation, however, has many aspects that clash with the principles of globalization. Since the June 15 Joint Declaration after the inter-Korean summit, the South Korean government's North Korea policy has met with many hurdles. The present North Korea policy is being criticized because the South is assuming a humble posture rather than adopting a policy of reciprocity.

The same is true with the logic of reform. The Kim Dae-jung government has advocated reforms and instituted some, but its credibility is low because more attention has been given to spin. Reforms in any field, be they in education or the medical sector, must be in line with the principles of globalization.

The key to globalization is marketability, which means fair play--playing by the rules. It is also characterized by healthy competition and abundant choice. Do Korean politics, education, and the medical sector abide by these rules? Only when the market works properly can we join the group of globalized nations.

However, it is wrong for the press to hold the government solely accountable for all social ills. Journalists must understand that they are partially to blame for the current crisis. They have failed to speak out and point out problem areas.

Joongang Ilbo will do a lot of thinking about its role as a responsible newspaper. We promise our readers that we will reform ourselves so that we can help define the future in accordance with the requirements of globalization. We ask our readers both to encourage us in this task and criticize us whenever necessary.

by Noh Jai-hyon

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