Medical group decries court’s ‘PD Diary’ ruling

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Medical group decries court’s ‘PD Diary’ ruling


The Korean Medical Association released a petition yesterday saying that its members strongly disagree with the acquittal of MBC staffers who aired a disputed 2008 “PD Diary” episode about mad cow disease.

The group said it based its statement on medical evidence.

The MBC staffers were recently acquitted of charges that they defamed government officials and obstructed businesses involved in importing U.S. beef.

“The court did not ask for advice from any official medical organizations about a case which involves important medical issues,” said Ja Hun-jeong, spokesperson for the KMA, Korea’s largest group of doctors. “As a result, there are some errors in the final judgment.”

Prosecutors last June charged five MBC staff members with deliberately creating a biased report on the safety of U.S. beef and the risk of mad cow disease. They claimed the program defamed then-Agriculture Minister Chung Woon-chun and former deputy minister and chief negotiator on the U.S. beef import deal, Min Dong-seok.

In particular, the KMA said the court’s judgment on the part of the episode that concerned the cause of death of a woman named Aretha Vinson was a misinterpretation.

PD Diary stated that it was highly likely that the American woman died of a human form of mad cow disease after eating U.S. beef.

In its ruling, the court said that PD Diary’s statement “can’t be seen as entirely false because at the time of her passing, the exact cause of death was not known.”

However, the doctors’ group stated that PD Diary’s take on Vinson’s death was highly exaggerated.
“A human form of mad cow disease is extremely rare and the show’s version of the Vinson case and connecting it to mad cow disease was a distortion of the truth,” the KMA said. The association also said that the TV show’s report that Koreans are at a higher risk of contracting human mad cow disease than other nationalities is not proven. The court sided with PD Diary on this point, saying that although the report might have been a little exaggerated, it was not entirely untrue.

“On this issue, we ... tried to form our judgment only from a purely medical standpoint,” said an official at the KMA.


By Cho Jae-eun, Kim Jung-soo [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]

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