[EDITORIALS]Censored in the North

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[EDITORIALS]Censored in the North

It has come to light that North Korea mistreated South Korean journalists who were reporting on an inter-Korean reunion event at Mount Kumgang. They blocked an SBS reporter from releasing video footage because the report contained the phrase “South Korean abductee.” The reporter was ordered not to leave the hotel, and another female reporter from the broadcasting company YTN had her notes confiscated. These acts, carried out under threat of violence, cannot be justified.
The subject the North Koreans disputed was not issues related to its supreme leader or political system, but the plain fact that people were kidnapped by the North. Regardless of this, the fact that the North made an issue out of the phrase “South Korean abductee” must be seen as an effort to tame the South’s media. The North has long used similar tactics. For instance, it bans reporters it doesn’t like from visiting the country.
The reason that North Korea can be so obstinate is due to its self-confidence. It is confident that the South Korean government will not be able to take any “strong response” whatever the North does. Evidently, the North’s judgment proved correct this time as well. We know this because a senior official at the Unification Ministry has responded to the incident only by making lofty comments. “We have to look into the truth of the matter a little more... there is still a difference in our systems and cultures,” the official said.
It is clear that the North interrupted the regular news reporting of a broadcaster and insulted South Korean journalists. What, then, is there more to look into? If there are cultural differences between North and South Korea, does that justify such a rude act? Such comments from the ministry are irresponsible and show that it is only trying to please North Korea.
Prior to holding this sort of event, both sides must have agreed on some set of regulations. The government must elucidate whether those regulations actually allowed North Korea to act as it did, or whether it was a sudden impulsive act staged by the North.
The South Korean government is stifled because it does not dare say anything to North Korea ― only “understand” it. This year alone, the government has given the North over 1 trillion won ($900 million) in aid. It doesn’t make sense that we have to give so much money only to have our media treated in such a fashion in return. The Unification Ministry should demand that the North censure those responsible and make a plan to keep this from happening again.
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