[Photo] UNI Global Union condemns Yoon government for attacks on free press

Posted on : 2023-11-01 16:32 KST Modified on : 2023-11-01 16:32 KST
At a joint press conference with Korea’s National Union of Media Workers, the organizations said the government’s media policy “seeks to make the media an enemy”
Yun Chang-hyun, the chairperson of Korea’s National Union of Media Workers, speaks at a joint press conference with representatives of UNI Global Union. (Kim Hye-yun/The Hankyoreh)
Yun Chang-hyun, the chairperson of Korea’s National Union of Media Workers, speaks at a joint press conference with representatives of UNI Global Union. (Kim Hye-yun/The Hankyoreh)

Korea’s National Union of Media Workers (NUMW) and UNI Global Union have joined forces to call for an end to the South Korean government’s attacks on the media, including multiple raids by the prosecutors on journalists at news outlets that covered allegations about President Yoon Suk-yeol.

The leaders of the NUMW main office and branches at YTN and public broadcasters including KBS, MBC and EBS convened with representatives from UNI Global Union’s media, arts and entertainment division at the Korea Press Center in downtown Seoul on Monday afternoon to reaffirm solidarity between journalists and raise awareness of the Korean government’s continuing crackdown on public broadcasters and the press.

“The Yoon administration is basically attempting to resurrect a system of state censorship that has disappeared in most developed countries under the ostensible goal of eliminating ‘fake news,’” asserted Yun Chang-hyun, the chairman of the NUMW.

“The media crackdown being carried out by the current government is seriously undermining the freedom of the press, which is a pillar of democracy. That will inevitably erode civic rights for workers, minorities and disadvantaged members of society,” Yun said.

Yun Chang-hyun, the chairperson of Korea’s National Union of Media Workers, speaks at a joint press conference with representatives of UNI Global Union. (Kim Hye-yun/The Hankyoreh)
Yun Chang-hyun, the chairperson of Korea’s National Union of Media Workers, speaks at a joint press conference with representatives of UNI Global Union. (Kim Hye-yun/The Hankyoreh)

The first entry in a catalog of the Yoon administration’s attempts to muzzle the press that the NUMW released on Monday was the presidential office’s decision to block MBC from covering Yoon’s trip to Southeast Asia in November 2022. The catalog listed no fewer than 30 press crackdowns in 2023 alone.

Other entries in the catalog were the government’s decision to decouple public broadcasting viewership fees from electricity bills on March 10 and the Foreign Ministry’s lawsuit on May 19 demanding media outlets to retract coverage about vulgar language that Yoon allegedly used on a visit to the US. Then in July, the Korea Communications Commission accelerated efforts to replace the CEOs and board chairs at public broadcasters.

Hanna Harvima, policy officer for UNI Global Union’s media, arts and entertainment division, remarked that it is absolutely unacceptable for the government to meddle in press freedoms and concluded by saying that her division was ready to stand with Korean journalists and the NUMW.

By Kim Hye-yun, staff reporter

Hanna Harvima, a policy officer for UNI Global Union’s media, arts and entertainment division, speaks at a joint press conference by Korea’s National Union of Media Workers and UNI Global Union about eroding press freedoms in South Korea on Oct. 30. (Kim Hye-yun/The Hankyoreh)
Hanna Harvima, a policy officer for UNI Global Union’s media, arts and entertainment division, speaks at a joint press conference by Korea’s National Union of Media Workers and UNI Global Union about eroding press freedoms in South Korea on Oct. 30. (Kim Hye-yun/The Hankyoreh)
A microphone sits on a desk at a joint press conference by Korea’s National Union of Media Workers and UNI Global Union about eroding press freedoms in South Korea on Oct. 30. (Kim Hye-yun/The Hankyoreh)
A microphone sits on a desk at a joint press conference by Korea’s National Union of Media Workers and UNI Global Union about eroding press freedoms in South Korea on Oct. 30. (Kim Hye-yun/The Hankyoreh)

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