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The KBS television network’s current affairs program, Media Focus, has used a North Korean military song, “Red Flag Song,” as background music, and that is extremely inappropriate and irresponsible. The state-run broadcaster apologized for using the song, saying it was a mistake, but this is not a simple matter that can end with an apology.
The “Red Flag Song” is North Korea’s representative revolutionary song, depicting the red flag, a symbol of the workers’ revolution. The song was loved by the communists during their armed struggles against the Japanese colonial government. After liberation, the song was the music of the left wing during Korea’s era of ideological confrontation. Now, the song is military music for North Korea’s army.
The song had already stirred up controversy in the South, after the movie “Silmido” used it. Many criticized the use of the song, but the controversy ended following the contention that it was used as a tool to heighten the reality of the movie.
But KBS’s airing of the “Red Flag Song” is a completely different matter. The national TV network has viewers of all ages. The content of all its programs must be fair and unbiased. Most of all, it should be accurate. Inaccurate and biased programs influence viewers’ judgments.
Media Focus used the melody of the “Red Flag Song” for a program criticizing the government embargo on reporting the deployment of South Korean troops to Iraq. Therefore, viewers could have mistakenly thought that the song belonged to South Korea’s military.
Is KBS in its right mind?
The broadcaster, run with tax money and viewers’ payments, said it failed to distinguish the military songs of North Korea and South Korea. That is just an absurd excuse.
Media Focus, which stirred up this controversy, has long been criticized for being biased because it aired unilateral criticism of the editorial decisions of the media, particular newspapers. Therefore, many viewers will closely watch how KBS handles its undeniably wrong deed.
KBS must have a thorough investigation on how the “Red Flag Song” was aired. It must punish the responsible officials and air a public apology. It should also set forth a measure to prevent similar incidents. The Korean Broadcasting Commission should also investigate this matter and punish KBS sternly
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