Police take action against controversial female hosts

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Police take action against controversial female hosts

The police on Wednesday raided offices that arranged a talk show that has come under fire in recent weeks for its alleged sympathies toward North Korea, as well as the home of Hwang Sun, the show’s host, whose past remarks have also been scrutinized for being pro-Pyongyang.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency conducted the raids in connection with a complaint filed by conservative groups that stated that Hwang violated National Security Law by praising North Korea during her talk show, entitled “Unification Concert.”

As part of its investigation, the police also notified the talk show’s co-host, Korean-American Shin Eun-mi, to appear for questioning. However, she refused to comply.

After she rejected her summons on Thursday, the Ministry of Justice banned Shin from leaving the country for 10 days. Both women have been subject to public scrutiny over the past month for their alleged pro-North stance, which is alleged to be on display in their joint talk shows. Notably, Shin is also the author of “Korean-American Ajumma Goes to North Korea,” which chronicles her time there over six visits.

Their positive depiction of daily life in North Korea as well as their failure to address human rights violations by the regime have not only drawn public criticism but angered North Korean defectors.

Outraged over the duo’s positive portrayal of their brief visits to North Korea on highly choreographed trips, three former political prisoners demanded last week a debate with the two women on the realities of what it meant to live under the regime. The co-hosts rejected the demand, however, and have since continued their talk shows.

On Wednesday, at one of their programs held at a theater in Iksan, North Jeolla, a high school senior angered by the women’s alleged ideology lit combustible components commonly found in fireworks that he had brought inside the venue in his backpack. The incident prompted some 200 audience members to evacuate the premises, though no serious injuries were reported.

The two talk show hosts deny the accusations against them, claiming their activities are meant to help South Koreans see a different side of life in North Korea to better understand the country as a step toward unification.

Hwang first attracted public attention when she gave birth in Pyongyang via caesarean section on Oct. 10, 2005, the anniversary of the founding of the country’s Workers’ Party, leading some to wonder whether she had intentionally chosen the date.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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