Yoon’s office declares offensive on critical media in hunt for figure behind Kim Man-bae interview

Posted on : 2023-09-06 17:21 KST Modified on : 2023-09-06 17:26 KST
The eradication of “fake news” has become the ruling camp’s rallying cry as it launches a full-scale offensive against the opposition and media critical of the government ahead of next year’s general election
President Yoon Suk-yeol answers questions from future diplomats at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul’s Seocho District on Sept. 1. (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk-yeol answers questions from future diplomats at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul’s Seocho District on Sept. 1. (Yonhap)

Calling it a “mind-boggling case of political maneuvering the main culprit of the Daejang neighborhood case and a former chair of the National Union of Media Workers collaborated on in order to influence the presidential election,” South Korea’s presidential office on Tuesday slammed Shin Hak-lim’s interview of Kim Man-bae for Newstapa, which was released to the public three days before the 2022 presidential election, stating that “right now is the chance to stamp out such evil practices.”

The People Power Party and the prosecution service responded in kind, saying they would thoroughly determine the figure behind the interview and hold them accountable.

The eradication of “fake news” has become the ruling camp’s rallying cry as it launches a full-scale offensive against the opposition and media critical of the government ahead of next year’s general election.

On Tuesday, the presidential office released a statement unusually titled “Statement from Senior Presidential Office Official,” which claimed, “Manipulative political conduct that attempted to move the finger of blame for the Daejang neighborhood case from Lee Jae-myung to Yoon Suk-yeol is gradually being exposed. This was the biggest case of political maneuvering during the 2022 presidential election, continuing the tradition of the Kim Dae-yeop incident and the Giyang Construction fake lobbying case.”

Earlier on Friday, prosecutors conducted a search and seizure of Shin’s residence on the charge that he received 165 million won in return for interviewing Kim, a major shareholder of asset management company Hwacheon Daeyu, regarding the allegation that Yoon covered up the Busan Savings Bank case, in September 2021, when Shin was an expert advisor for Newstapa.

On Sunday, news outlets reported that prosecutors secured witness statements arguing that Kim tried to bury the issue of Lee’s alleged involvement in the Daejang neighborhood development scandal by drawing attention to Yoon’s alleged involvement in the Busan Savings Bank case.

Regarding this, a senior official from the presidential office remarked, “The objective of these fabrications and maneuvers was Yoon’s defeat in the presidential election,” adding, “At the time, certain news outlets intensively disseminated this fake news, ultimately fulfilling the role of loudspeaker for these planned political maneuvers.” Beyond pointing out the inaccuracy of news reports, the official raised the possibility that there was a “mastermind” behind those reports.

People Power Party leader Kim Gi-hyeon met with reporters the same day, commenting, “[Shin’s interview of Kim] constituted a collective act by fake news experts intent on turning public opinion in South Korea upside down.”

“We will thoroughly determine the mastermind [behind the interview] and hold them accountable” he added.

During a phone call with the Hankyoreh, an official with the prosecution service stated, “We plan to get the whole picture of the incident by investigating the circumstances of the interview, compensations involved, and the mastermind behind the scenes.”

While admitting that the transaction between Shin and Kim violates journalistic ethics, Yoon Chang-hyun, the chief of the National Union of Media Workers, remarked that “the ruling power’s unjust use of this matter to control the media and dominate broadcasting by blowing it out of proportion is unconscionable.”

By Seo Young-ji, staff reporter; Kim Mi-na, staff reporter; Choi Sung-jin, staff reporter; Jeon Gwang-joon, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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