The Korea Herald

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KBS union ends strike as board approves dismissal of president

By Kim So-hyun

Published : Jan. 23, 2018 - 19:52

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Unionized workers of KBS said Tuesday they would end a nearly five-month strike, a day after the public broadcaster’s board of directors approved a motion to dismiss its president, accusing him of undermining the fairness of news reporting and overusing disciplinary measures.

Over 2,200 unionized workers of KBS have been on a strike since Sept. 4 and demanding the resignation of Koh Dae-young, who they claim was controlled by former President Park Geun-hye. They announced they would return to work Wednesday.

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

In a closed-door meeting attended by 10 of the 11 board directors Monday, six voted for the dismissal as one abstained. Three conservative board directors walked out in protest of the vote.

Chairman of the board Lee In-ho did not attend the session, citing health issues. In a separate statement, she said she would resign as a member of the board as it was “meaningless to remain” the board chairman.

The KBS board of directors now consists of six people recommended by the ruling camp and five recommended by the opposition, after a conservative board member was fired last month for misusing his corporate credit card and was replaced by a pastor.

The conservative board members said in a statement that the six directors who were recommended by the government and ruling party “committed violence” by using their numerical dominance to pass the dismissal of Koh.

The pro-ruling camp board members submitted the motion to sack Koh to the board secretariat early this month. In addition to undermining the fairness of news reporting, they blamed him for causing the protracted strike and being unable to resolve it, as well as being responsible for the broadcaster’s falling credibility and influence.

Koh said he could not agree to any of the reasons cited for his removal.

“If (the board) pushes ahead with the dismissal, I will not accept it as it would be legally unjustified,” he told the board Monday.

Ko’s dismissal will become finalized upon President Moon Jae-in’s approval.

If President Moon approves Ko’s removal, the KBS board of directors will start accepting applicants for the vacant post, and then screen and interview them.

The final candidate for KBS president then has to go through a parliamentary hearing before being officially appointed by the president.

It may take some time to appoint a new president, as the opposition parties are unlikely to cooperate in the parliamentary hearing.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party and Bareun Party protested against Koh’s dismissal, accusing the Moon administration of trying to bring the public broadcaster under its control. They called on Moon to deny the request to approve the dismissal.

The People’s Party also said the government was following the steps of the past conservative administrations to control the public broadcaster.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)