Celebrity tweet accuses KBS of blackballing

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Celebrity tweet accuses KBS of blackballing

In a short digital blast, a celebrity has delivered a broadside to state-run broadcaster KBS, and demonstrated the increasing power of “tweets,” or messages on Twitter.

On Monday, 46-year-old comedian and radio broadcaster Kim Mi-wha sent a Twitter message to her fans saying that KBS maintains a blacklist of talents who are liberals or support opposition parties, and she’s on it, preventing her from getting roles on TV and radio shows.

“I have worked as a comedian for 27 years and I can’t help feeling devastated as I heard a shocking story from KBS that there was a reason why I couldn’t get a part: because there’s an insider document that bans me from working there,” Kim wrote on her Twitter page (http://twitter.com/kimmiwha) on Monday.

“I worked with KBS producers for over 20 years and they’re my friends,” the message continued. “I think they are showing excessive loyalty to someone who told a biased story about me. If someone at KBS sees this, could they identify whether the blacklist actually exists? I feel so sad.”

Kim’s tweet was received by the 36,411 followers of her Twitter page, and then spread through cyberspace through other channels. The terms “Kim Mi-wha Twitter” and “KBS blacklist” soon topped local search engines inquiries.

(Tweets are usually restricted to 140 characters, but in Korea, longer messages can be sent through the Twitter network via http://twtkr.com.)

On Tuesday, KBS filed a defamation complaint, saying Kim was spreading groundless rumors.

“If such a list existed, producers would have learned about it and it would have spread to the outside world,” said Jo Dae-hyun, vice president of KBS, at a press conference Tuesday. “KBS hasn’t stopped Kim’s appearances nor attempted to block her from getting parts.”

Yeongdeungpo police summoned a KBS attorney for questioning in regard to the allegations on Wednesday and plan to summon Kim soon.

Lee Chung-hyun, journalism professor at Kookmin University, said the case shows how essential Twitter has become as a communication method.

“Tweets spread quickly because they’re easily accessible on smartphones and mobile gadgets,” Lee said.

Even politicians have piled onto the case. “Kim’s a public figure and she shouldn’t spread unverified rumors in cyberspace,” said Ko Heung-kil, a Grand National Party lawmaker, on Wednesday. Kim Hyun, deputy spokeswoman for the opposition Democratic Party, criticized Ko for his statement.

“[Kim Mi-wha] just raised a speculation whether a blacklist exists or not and we can’t understand why Ko thinks Kim’s behavior was inappropriate,” spokeswoman Kim said.

By Kim Mi-ju, Kang Hye-ran [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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