Ministry shows true colorsThe Unification Ministry has forbidden a JoongAng Ilbo reporter covering the ministerial level inter-Korean talks from entering the press center. The government did so to protest a report by the JoongAng Ilbo [which did not run in the JoongAng Daily] pointing out that the ministry’s attempt to make use of the press corps to publicize the inter-Korean talks contradicted its plan in August to scrap all press corps rooms attached to the various government organizations.
The report did not criticize the Unification Ministry. The report was also not designed to criticize the ministry’s efforts to establish a press center within the venue of the talks to help reporters. The report merely pointed out the holes in the government’s so-called measures to modernize the media. The report pointed out that the government, in some cases, deemed media rooms for the press corps to be absolutely necessary. The report criticized the government’s inconsistent attitude, providing media rooms at times and then abolishing them when feeling threatened. The report in question was written under those circumstances, yet the Unification Ministry came out in a fury, threatening to forbid access to the ministry and other measures that are helpful in reporting. This is stretching authority based on arrogance. If there are grievances regarding specific reports, corrections can be requested and plenty of other lawful measures can be taken. Nevertheless, one has to ask who gave the ministry the authority to skip the process altogether and forbid the reporter from entering. It is the people’s money that made it possible to establish a press center in the first place, but the ministry acts as if it has spent its own money on it and can, at will, tell the people to take a hike. As public officials, their basic attitude is just wanting. They do not even know their basic purpose.
The actions by the ministry have truly shown what the government really means when it says that it envisions “modernizing” the reporting system. The government paints its new media policy as if it was a measure that copies how developed countries operate their media. In reality, however, they are measures controlling the media. The policy does not stop at mere words, but takes physical actions. It is like the ghost of military dictatorships rising again. Even the governing party calls these measures an act of violence taken by the government. The unification minister needs to take his cue from this. The only solution is to immediately apologize and nullify the measures taken.