A porous press policyWhen it comes to implementing the press reforms envisioned by the Roh administration ― viewed by the media as infringing on press freedom ― the Defense Ministry did right in trying to curb the outrageous measures. The ministry that shut its media room and restricted access by reporters yesterday withdrew the order blocking the entrance of reporters. Even the defense ministry official in charge of press relations said, “The Defense Ministry had restricted the entrance of reporters on Sunday to make reporters move to a new briefing room, but by doing so it has made reporting difficult and we regret that.”
Nevertheless, since the electricity and Internet access are still cut, the actions taken by the ministry are half-measures and not a full solution. Is it that hard to acknowledge the lies made to people and correct the errors made under the pretext of establishing a reporting system that is supposed to be developed?
Even more outrageous is that the cabinet approved yesterday a medal of merit for Yang Jung-chul, the Blue House secretary in charge of policy planning for media relations, on grounds that Yang worked hard and creatively. This is truly a topic that could make headlines abroad. Yang was the person who visited the Defense Ministry last week and pressured the vice defense minister to implement the closure of the media room. One can only be speechless about the arrogance of an administration that is coming to an end and that chose to award a medal to Yang, who implemented a press policy that is sure to be abandoned in the next administration.
In addition, Bang Seon-gyu, an official of the Government Information Agency that stands at the forefront of implementing the media reforms, is slated to become a counselor in charge of press affairs at the Korean Embassy in Washington. And Kim Chang-ho, the head of the agency, is expected to return to Korea as a professor at Myongji University after finishing research abroad. What can these two possibly do in terms of publicity and teaching students about freedom of the press?
Regardless of who becomes president in today’s election, the media policy by the Roh administration will become hollow under the next administration.
On this occasion, there should be an investigation of how the process of suppressing the press was conducted and who is responsible. A lot of tax money was wasted. There should be a way to make the policymakers responsible and punish them.