DP slammed for attacking Bloomberg reporter

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DP slammed for attacking Bloomberg reporter

Opposition lawmakers fired back at the ruling Democratic Party (DP) for accusing a Seoul Bloomberg correspondent of “treachery” over an article that called South Korean President Moon Jae-in the “top spokesman” of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

It was the latest development in the recent dust-up between the DP and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), which goes back to a parliamentary speech given by LKP floor leader Rep. Na Kyung-won on March 12.

Na told the chamber she doesn’t want to hear “humiliating rhetoric” that Moon is acting like Kim’s “top spokesman.” The Blue House immediately disputed in furor, saying the remark was an “insult to the head of state” and asked the LKP for an apology.

The LKP said it was citing an article from Bloomberg published last September, titled “South Korea’s Moon Becomes Kim Jong Un’s Top Spokesman at UN.”

In an official statement last Thursday, the DP singled out the reporter of the article, a South Korean national. The party said the article was a “notorious” piece written by a person who had just transferred to Bloomberg after working at a local news agency, while mentioning the reporter’s full Korean name. The DP said the article was close to an act of “treachery” that insulted the head of a state “underneath the cover of a U.S. wire service.”

Several Bloomberg correspondents in Seoul have since been facing harrowing online threats from Moon’s advocates.

The Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club responded with an official statement of its own last Saturday, expressing its “grave concern” over the DP singling out the Bloomberg correspondent for her coverage, which has resulted in “serious threats to her personal safety.” The group said that the DP’s public statement was a form of “censorship and journalistically chilling.”

During an emergency meeting on Sunday, the LKP floor leader who started the brouhaha, Na, said it was an “international disgrace” that the DP attacked the Bloomberg reporter and disparaged her coverage in an official statement, saying it shows that the Moon administration was “retreating on representative democracy.” Rep. Min Kyung-wook, the LKP’s spokesman, said in an LKP statement issued the same day that the DP was censoring the media and gagging reporters and LKP lawmakers.

The minor conservative Bareunmirae Party chimed in, saying in an official party statement that the DP’s “ignorance” was undermining the freedom of the press. Bareunmirae Party Rep. Lee Un-ju wrote on Facebook that the DP should change its name to the “People’s Democratic Party” after North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Bloomberg did not immediately respond to inquiries for comment on Monday.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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