NATIONAL

KBS talk show under fire for ‘glorifying’ Kim Jong-un

By Yim Hyun-su

‘Tonight, Kim Je-dong’ faces criticism after segment describes NK leader as ‘capable and talented’

  • Published : Dec 10, 2018 - 09:29
  • Updated : Dec 10, 2018 - 11:56
KBS nighttime talk show “Tonight, Kim Je-dong” has come under fire after critics accused the program of airing a segment that “glorified” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Tuesday’s episode included an interview with a man who described the North Korean leader as “humble” and a “capable and talented leader.”

Tonight, Kim Je-dong."(KBS)

Kim Soo-geun, who heads the pro-Kim Jong-un group called Welcome Committee for a Great Man, introduced himself as a “real fan” of Kim on the show, before praising the North Korean leader for economic progress in the country and for being different from South Korean politicians.

On Thursday, the show’s staff issued a statement that said “Tonight, Kim Je-dong” had taken a neutral stance, as the program had also aired criticism of the North Korean leader. 

Kim Soo-geun. (KBS)

However, controversy continued, with politicians weighing in.

In a meeting at the National Assembly on Friday, Kim Sung-tae, floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, took aim at KBS, describing the episode as “inappropriate” for a public broadcaster.

The lawmaker also said KBS should not think of itself as YouTube before adding, “For a public broadcaster to praise and encourage Kim Jong-un is an ideological waste of airwaves.”

In a Facebook post on the same day, Lee Un-ju of the Bareunmirae Party called the broadcast “anti-statist” and suggested the show’s presenter Kim Je-dong and his staff “move to North Korea.”

During the controversial episode, Kim Soo-geun had explained he just wanted “the freedom to think.”

When asked whether he wanted to live in the neighboring country, Kim said, “I don’t have the money and I have no plans to go (to North Korea) at the moment.”

Kim sparked controversy last month when his group held a press conference at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul, where he was heard chanting “I love a communist party” and “I’m an ardent fan of Chairman Kim Jong-un.” 

Members of pro-Kim Jong-un group “Welcome Committee for a Great Man” attend a press conference at Gwanghwamun Plaza on Nov. 26. (Yonhap)

It is not the first time that a public broadcaster has drawn flak for allegedly being pro-Kim Jong-un.

In late November, a 3D puzzle for children created by Scholas Store in partnership with EBS Media was criticized for casting the North Korean leader in a positive light, which led to the company discontinuing the product.

The puzzle had described Kim as “the youngest head-of-state in the world” and “a leader who took one more step to achieve world peace by denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.”

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)