[FOUNTAIN]End the need for battlefield reportersWar correspondents often greet each other with, “Say hello, say goodbye.” As soon as you meet, you have to part. It also means, “We will meet again if we are both alive,” and the icy greeting reflects the unpredictable nature of the battlefield.
Koreans call the such correspondents jonggun reporters, using the Chinese characters for “following the military.” The term has a vaguely camp-follower ring to it, and Jeong Mun-tae, a well-known war correspondent, wrote in a recent book that he wants to use the term “front-line reporter” or “war reporter” here. He said that in order to get the necessary respect from the soldiers that such reporters cover, the right title is important.
There are a number of historical records supporting Mr. Jeong’s idea. During World War II, the Allies strictly controlled the wartime media and the correspondents were considered military workers. During the Korean War, the U.S. forces installed a press advisory organ to directly control and censor the war correspondents and forced them to play the role of buglers of the Cold War. When the United States struck Iraq the second time, the U.S. military introduced the so-called “embed program.” The U.S. forces called the war correspondents in for pre-education and assigned them to stay with different units. The intimate relationship between the military and the press bolstered the myth of America’s modern warfare that the U.S. forces are always just and win every war.
In the last few days, the newspapers and televisions reported that U.S. forces had taken over Fallujah, Iraq. What is really going on in the ghostly city with rotting bodies is still unknown. Where have all the embedded war correspondents gone?
The International Federation of Journalists said that more than 100 journalists have died in accidents or terrorist attacks while gathering news around the world this year. The year 2004 will be remembered as the year in which the second largest number of journalists were killed in the field, lagging only 1994’s 115 deaths. The major cause of the death toll was the Iraq war. Since the day the United States began the invasion, 62 war correspondents have been killed in Iraq. I would like to see the day when there is not a single war correspondent. It would be the day when all the fights around the world cease.
by Chung Jae-suk
The writer is a deputy culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.