Yoon cites national interests after his office bans MBC reporters from boarding Air Force One
President Yoon Suk-yeol said Thursday that important national interests are at stake during presidential overseas trips, after his office decided to ban local TV station MBC's reporters from boarding Air Force One to cover his upcoming trip to Southeast Asia.
The presidential office informed MBC of the decision Wednesday, two days before Yoon departs for his tour of Cambodia and Indonesia, citing the broadcaster's repeated "distorted" coverage.
"The president goes on overseas trips using taxpayer money because important national interests are at stake," Yoon told reporters as he arrived for work Thursday. "We've been providing a service to help with coverage of foreign policy and security issues, and I'd like you to accept it in those terms."
The presidential office did not specify which reports were distorted, but MBC has been at the center of controversy after it broadcast a video of Yoon walking out of an event in New York in September and telling his aides in vulgar language that it would be embarrassing if the National Assembly did not approve of something unspecified.
MBC subtitled the video to make it appear that Yoon was referring to U.S. President Joe Biden, but the presidential office denied there was any mention of Biden and claimed the word he used was in reference to the National Assembly. Yoon's remarks caught on a hot mic were difficult to hear because of background noise.
"The boarding of the presidential jet has been a service provided to help with coverage of foreign policy and security issues, and in consideration of MBC's repeated distorted and biased coverage of foreign policy issues recently, we have decided not to provide the service," the presidential office said in a notice to the company.
In response, MBC issued a statement vowing to send its reporters on an alternative flight if they are banned.
"This action clearly restricts coverage by the press," it said.