Disinformation agencyThe Government Information Agency is the Red Guard of the Roh administration. This agency has long been vulnerable to the criticism that it wastes taxpayers’ money by promoting the politicians in power, rather than informing the public about government policy. There is no need for such an agency to exist.
The agency has disappeared and then resurfaced several times. In 1948, when the country had its first administration following the colonial era, the agency was established.
In 1956 it was downsized to a small government department. In 1961, after the military coup, it increased its size again and then it was enlarged once more in 1968.
The agency saw changes throughout the ensuing administrations. When Kim Dae-jung came to power, the pressure on the press was increased. The agency took on its current format and status in May 1999.
The past tells us that when authority and the press are separated and reform is emphasized, the status of the agency decreases, but when the government attacks the press the agency gets bigger.
The Government Information Agency of the current administration has several times pursued public relations campaigns that were truly lacking in class. Media outlets that have been critical of the administration have been denied full access to civil servants and advertising contracts from government agencies. This is similar to the tactics used by military dictatorships in the ’70s.
When the agency pushed other government agencies to promote Roh’s constitutional change, government agencies that had no business in the issue and are supposed to be focused on culture, economic and social issues had to send out tens of thousands of e-mails. What a fiasco. Despite the fact that the president’s bid to move administrative functions to a new city raised the real estate price, the agency played an active part in advertising it as a good deal.
Now, an agency that is supposed to help the press with its coverage is trying to curb press activities.
Promotion of government policy, whether local or abroad, should be handled by the government agencies directly involved in the matter.
Presidential candidates who can see how the press is being controlled should make it part of their campaign agenda to dissolve the agency. When the administration truly moves the minds of the public, there is no need for such an agency. A higher and better profile then comes automatically.
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