GNP initiates media compensation

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GNP initiates media compensation

The ruling Grand National Party yesterday began discussing measures to compensate media companies and journalists victimized by the Chun Doo Hwan regime decades ago.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded Thursday that Chun’s military regime abused its power when it forcibly restructured media outlets in a push to control the nation in 1980. The commission urged the government to compensate victims of the media massacre.

“We will have discussions with the Culture Ministry to restore the honor of media companies and journalists who suffered and provide them with compensation as soon as possible,” said Choi Ku-sik, a senior lawmaker of the Grand National Party. “The discussion will precede our efforts to pass a special act on compensation.”

Lawmakers, including Choi, said passing a special law takes too much time. “First, the government must search for administrative measures that will allow it to compensate the victims,” Representative Na Kyung-won said. “If that’s not possible, then I will initiate a discussion at the National Assembly to pass a special law to provide restitution.”

The ruling and opposition parties will be able to agree on the special law if legal grounds are required to finance the compensation, Na said.

Civic groups joined the call for rapid compensation.

“The truth commission uncovered the authoritarian regime’s shameful history of media control and oppression,” said Jeon Hee-gyeong, policy director of Citizens United for Better Society. “Based on the commission’s conclusion, appropriate restitution and other measures to restore the victims’ honor should be created.”

In recent years, the Chun regime’s oppressive actions have been investigated, and the state has compensated victims after the legislature established special laws on restitution.

One key example was the government’s handling of victims of the Samcheong Training Camp, a sort of concentration camp operated by the Chun regime to discipline people it considered harmful to society.

The regime established the camp inside a military unit, and 39,742 civilians, including journalists who lost their jobs during the media restructuring, were forced to undergo corrective programs. More than 50 inmates died and many suffered physical and mental trauma.

In March 2003, the National Human Rights Commission urged the National Assembly speaker and the defense minister to pass a special law to lay bare the truth about the camp and compensate victims. The National Assembly approved the law in December 2004, and 3,000 victims and their families were compensated.


By Ser Myo-ja, Ko Jung-ae [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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