The Hankyoreh


» Members of the MBC labor union, left, block detectives and prosecutors from conducting a search and seizure of ‘PD Notebook’ original documents and recordings at MBC headquarters in Yeouido, April 22.

It was confirmed Monday that the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international media watchdog, sent a letter on May 7 to President Lee Myung-bak to express their concern regarding South Korea’s press situation.

In the letter sent to President Lee Myung-bak, the committee said that it is “concerned by your administration’s increasing pressure on the Republic of Korea’s media” and cited the arrest of MBC “PD Notebook” producers and writers and the replacement of “News Desk” anchor Shin Kyung-min.

It also said that CPJ is “concerned because the prosecutions, sackings come amid a broader set of disputes with the government and the station’s management.” The letter expressed a concern especially about the administration’s “plan for deregulation of the republic’s vibrant media industry,” and made reference to the fact that “some media analysts say the government is behind the move because only three right-leaning pro-government Korean-language papers are wealthy enough to buy up the stations.”

CPJ also criticized the expansion of the real name confirmation system that went into effect in April and referred to Lee Won-jin, the managing director of Google Korea, who has said, “The real-name requirements do not benefit users in any way and do not contribute to creating a vibrant Internet culture.”

CPJ shared a concern about a South Korean law that criminalizes slander, saying, ‘While slander is a serious charge, it should not be criminalized and should be dealt with in civil courts.“

It concluded by saying, “All of these actions are a step backward for South Korea,” and called on the South Korea government “to ensure that journalists work without fear of losing their jobs or going to jail as political retribution.”

The committee was founded in 1981 and their headquarters are located in New York. It serves to prevent press controls and to protect journalists from brutal treatment by authoritarian governments.

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