A letter to Rep. Kim
The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
Rep. Kim, I heard your welcoming remarks at the National Assembly podium after you were sworn in on April 19. “I am practically a dead person politically, but I am here unexpectedly. The members of the Open Democratic Party and the citizens brought me back to life,” you said. Your comments reflected your unique sentiment.
That reminds me of what you said as the presidential spokesperson a couple of years ago: “Civilian surveillance does not exist in the DNA of the Moon Jae-in administration.” “I will be listening to the silence of the desert if it contains any information on the armed group responsible for the abduction of Korean nationals.” Then and now, I find your overly sentimental language discomforting.
You said in the speech at the legislature that media reform was a task you have been given. I blushed instantly. It is the emotion I feel when I am humiliated. The person, who made a great contribution in changing the world with a scoop on former President Park Geun-hye’s confidante’s intervention in state affairs, moved to the Blue House after the administration changed. Now you became a former journalist that junior reporters don’t feel proud of. The juniors live with derision that that’s how the world works. The insulting expression — “Journalists are trash!” — must contain mockery about reporters following the power.
I had doubts on what you meant to reform and how, and the MBC radio interview the next day cleared up my questions mostly. You said that the government should get off of the public media and return it to the people. For the private media, ownership and management should be completely separated, you added.
And you called it a “big deal.”
It sounds convincing, but I think that’s absurd. Most people agree that the government should not influence the public media. It’s the norm, but forcing major shareholders of private media to get off the company management cannot be considered a universal norm. I mean it needs to be studied whether it’s desirable and realizable.
Let me make it easier to understand. One day, the education minister says, the government would guarantee complete autonomy of national universities, so private university foundations should get their hands off the school management, and it’s a big deal. It’s the same as that. Do you think the minister is in the right state of mind? Preventing the government from interfering with autonomy of national universities can be justified. But excluding the private university foundations from school management is a claim that may be unconstitutional.
Why should the media separate ownership and management? Is that because media produce public goods having a serious influence on public interests? If so, shouldn’t pharmaceutical companies, food companies and construction companies do the same? You had worked for a media company where members elect their president by vote. It sounded reasonable at first. But I’ve heard reporters at your newspaper company grumbling that the company resembles politics. I have heard words like factions, non-mainstream, and award by merit. You would also know.
I want to add two more things. You apologized for the Heukseok-dong real estate issue and mentioned your donation of the profit. People are not mad because you made money by making the investment by taking advantage of your job at the Blue House. We are angry because of the hypocrisy of the power revealed by the spokesman of the administration that declared that the age of making money with real estate has ended. And also, the people didn’t vote you into office again. You could become a lawmaker thanks to revision of the election law to create satellite parties of the mainstream parties. Don’t mention the word “citizens” arbitrarily.