Digging up the blacklist

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Digging up the blacklist

Culture and Sports Minister Cho Yoon-sun admitted that there was a blacklist on cultural figures deemed critical of the government and its policies. Appearing at the parliamentary hearing on the power abuse by Choi Soon-sil and other members of the inner circle of President Park Geun-hye, Cho answered that there existed a list of names to exclude from public funding.

Cho is under suspicion of creating the list while she was the senior presidential secretary for political affairs at the order of Park’s then chief of staff Kim Ki-choon. Cho has been accused of lying under oath at an earlier parliamentary hearing and faces a probe by the independent counsel. Cho has overturned her earlier testimony after persistent grilling at the hearing.

The list was drawn up to discriminate over 10,000 writers and artists from state subsidies and funding. Former Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Yoo Jin-ryong first spilled the beans in June 2014. But figures believed to have been involved, including chief of staff Kim, vehemently denied the allegation. The special investigation team must investigate the matter thoroughly after Cho’s admittance.

In a press meeting on New Year’s Day, President Park maintained she knew nothing about the list. But it was drawn up by the secretariat office of political affairs at the order of the chief of staff and handed over to the Ministry of Culture and Sports. The National Intelligence Service was also involved in the work.

It does not make sense that the president would be unaware of the list when it was created by those inside the presidential office, the intelligence agency, and the culture ministry. The independent counsel team also suspects Choi had been a part of the list-making. The president could have ordered to have the list drawn up at the advice of her friend. All this must be uncovered by the independent counsel.

The opposition camp also should learn from the fiasco. Funding under the liberal governments of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun was mostly centered on their supportive figures. Funding for artists should not hinge on their political preference.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 10, Page 30

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