A public broadcaster?

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A public broadcaster?

KBS has seriously violated its role as public broadcaster. Long ago, it lost political neutrality and has since blindly chased scandalous and sensational pieces in a desperate attempt to steal viewers from cable, satellite and online competitors, as well as from streaming mobile platforms.

Its broadcasts have enraged viewers. Over the weekend TV lecture program, Hanshin University professor and outspoken philosopher Kim Young-oak — better known as Master Doh-ol — called the founding president of South Korea, Syngman Rhee, a “puppet for the United States” and lambasted U.S. military rule after Korea was liberated from Japanese colonization in 1945. The program was designed to look back on 100 years of Korean modern and contemporary history marking the centennial of the March 1, 1919, Independence Movement.

On March 16, it aired a program devoted to the 1945 liberation and the three-year U.S. military rule in South Korea as a result of the postwar agreement of global powers. Kim said the founding leaders — Kim Il Sung of the North and Rhee of the South — were “a sort of puppets” for the Soviet Union and the United States. He went on to say they should exhume Rhee’s remains from the national cemetery. “We suffered under his rule,” he said. He claimed that Rhee has already been erased from Korean history. “Korea would never have become divided if the people agreed to international trusteeship,” he shouted.

The program immediately caused uproar for distorting historical facts. A former president was defamed on national TV — such a view could be pardoned if it were aired on an internet platform, but not on a network with a wide range of viewers. Some asked whether the public broadcaster supports communism.

KBS2 TV’s long-running weekend entertainment program “2 Days & 1 Night” has been suspended and may never return after cast members Cha Tae-hyun and Kim Jun-ho were exposed for having gambled hundreds of dollars while playing golf, which is illegal in Korea. The program often joked about the crimes of entertainers. That’s not all: KBS also aired uncensored outbursts from a figure, organizing a welcome ceremony for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on a talk show hosted by leftist comedian Kim Je-dong. A public broadcaster must be strict in its public role of upholding fairness, neutrality, objectivity and balance. These days, KBS has none of it. It is no wonder more people are lobbying for an end to KBS payments.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 21, Page 30
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