Success of raid tied to embargo placed on press

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Success of raid tied to embargo placed on press

While Korea’s Cheonghae Naval Unit yesterday successfully rescued all crew members of the Samho Jewelry, a Korean freighter hijacked by Somali pirates on Jan. 15, experts said it’s an example that clearly shows the importance of abiding by a press embargo.

Experts said the Korean press this time abided by the government’s call for refraining from reporting details about the hijacking and the government’s rescue tactics to save the sailors. They said that actually led to the success of the rescue operation without major casualties.

Jang Gwang-il, head of defense policy at the Ministry of National Defense, met with journalists on Monday and pleaded with them to refrain from reporting details about the matter.

“The safety of our sailors should come first,” Jang said. “We could run into problems saving the sailors if military operation plans are leaked to Somali pirates through media reports.”

Though the public has the right to know the latest development of the hijacking, Jang said the press needs to be mindful that sailors’ safety could be in jeopardy. “Even if media reports are reported in Korean, they could end up in the hands of pirates after they’re translated,” Jang said. Journalists conceded the grave situation and accepted the ministry’s press embargo until the sailors’ release.

When Jang on Tuesday met journalists to explain the Jan. 18 Navy unit’s first rescue operation, which left three members of the Korean Navy Seals injured, Jang again requested that the press refrain from reporting details. There were already news reports that some sailors were injured during their first rescue attempt. “Navy sailors can sustain injuries during the military operation, but [saving the lives] of sailors is important,” Jang said.

The government and Samho Shipping previously had a hard time winning the release of another hijacked ship, the Samho Dream, two months ago because the Korean press reported every detail of the government’s military countermeasures, according to experts.

Samho Shipping eventually won the release of its crew in November, seven months after they were hijacked last April. The company paid a $9.5 million ransom to free the Samho Dream and its crew members.

The Korean government and Samho Shipping at that time were battered with harsh criticism.

Critics argued that Korea’s giving in to the pirate’s demands had set a shameful precedent and that as a consequence, more Korean freighters would be targeted by pirates.

By Jeong Yong-soo [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]


Related Korean Article [중앙일보]

[‘아덴만 여명’]“인질생명 위험” vs “알 권리 존중” 격론 끝 엠바고 수용
7일간의 언론·군 공조

지난 15일 삼호주얼리호가 해적에 납치된 뒤 국방부 출입 기자들은 최영함의 군사작전을 놓고 어려운 결정을 내렸다. 군 당국이 군의 작전이 완료될 때까지 삼호주얼리호의 선원 21명에 대한 ‘엠바고(Embargo·보도 유예)’를 요청했고, 기자들은 격론 끝에 엠바고를 받아들였다. 아덴만에서 최영함(4500t)이 삼호주얼리호를 구출하기 위해 2000㎞ 떨어진 곳으로 출발한 뒤인 17일이었다. 국방부 출입 기자들의 의견은 엇갈렸다. 토론에선 국민들의 알 권리를 존중해야 한다는 점에서 엠바고 수용은 문제가 있다는 의견과 반대로 선원과 군 장병들의 안전을 위해 엠바고를 받아들이자는 것 등이 개진됐다. 결국 기자들은 보도 경쟁으로 초래될 수 있는 선원과 장병의 위험을 감안해 군 당국의 요청을 받아들였다. 지난해 11월 217일 만에 950만 달러의 석방금을 주고 풀려난 삼호드림호 피랍사건이 판단의 기준이 됐다. 당시 국내 언론들이 청해부대 충무공이순신함의 상황을 보도하면서 국제 네트워크를 갖춘 해적들이 선원에 대한 살해 협박을 하면서 구출 작전을 펴지 못했다.

18일 1차 구출 작전에서 특수부대원 3명이 부상한 뒤 엠바고를 풀자는 의견이 나왔지만 엠바고 요청을 수용한 대의를 유지하자고 결정했다. 20일 오전 지역 신문인 부산일보가 1차 구출 작전 상황을 1면에 보도하고, ‘미디어 오늘’이 인터넷에 인용해 보도하기도 했지만 선원들의 안전과 우리 군의 안전 및 효율적 작전을 위해 취재는 하되 보도하지 않는 상황을 일주일간 이어갔다. …

http://news.joins.com/article/538/4961538.html?ctg=

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