A bias too farIn a confirmation hearing Monday in the National Assembly, Kim Eui-chul, the nominee to head KBS, exposed many problems accompanying his nomination as president of the public broadcaster. First of all, his morality has been seriously questioned. Kim, former head of KBS Business, a subsidiary of the terrestrial broadcaster, used the address of a sister living in Seoul to apply to buy a public apartment in the capital in 1993 although he actually lived in Incheon at the time. When he purchased another apartment in 2004, he paid 14 million won ($11,790) less in real estate tax by lowering the declared price of his purchase.
Nevertheless, Kim denied any wrongdoings in answers to seven questions required of public office seekers, including falsifying a registration of addresses for property gain or tax evasion. After an opposition lawmaker pressed him to withdraw from the nomination for falsifying a registration, he refused, saying he clarified the matter in a detailed answer earlier.
A bigger problem is a controversy over his political neutrality as a candidate for the chief position of the public broadcaster. In June, Kim wrote on social media, “I looked up the word ‘pillage’ in the dictionary as I have not heard it for so long. What difference is there between a man who uses such a word and the people who repeat it without any sense of criticism?” The day he posted that comment on Facebook was the day former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl declared his presidential bid to “stop the current administration from continuing pillaging the people by extending its reign.” Yoon is now the presidential candidate for the opposition People Power Party (PPP).
Asked if the post was aimed at Yoon, Kim said, “I cannot remember why I posted it on social media,” but later said, “Yes, it was aimed at Yoon.” And yet, Kim denied political bias when he headed the newsroom at KBS. Despite his explanation that he posted the comment in his personal capacity, he was CEO of KBS Business at the time. The PPP attacked Kim for a “serious political bias” in March when he posted news articles dealing with suspicions about Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon — a PPP candidate in the mayoral by-election — on social media.
The BBC upholds political impartiality for pressmen. Whenever the government changes in Korea, KBS was at the center of controversy over fair, neutral and objective broadcasting. Kim said he will ensure independence for its production staff. If he follows in the footsteps of his predecessors — willingly or not — the dark history of KBS will only be repeated.