NATIONAL

Liberty Korea Party wages war on KBS, citing threat to democracy and the Constitution

By Kim Arin

South Korea’s main conservative party strikes country’s biggest broadcaster citing “bias toward” the ruling party’s administration

  • Published : Jan 4, 2019 - 17:42
  • Updated : Jan 14, 2019 - 09:36
Main opposition Liberty Korea Party on Friday launched a campaign to “deter Moon Jae-in administration’s media domination policy” and “restore normalcy at the public broadcaster Korea Broadcasting System,” claiming that the current government is “trying to seize control of the press -- including KBS.”

A special committee has been launched by the party with an aim to impede “KBS’ destruction of the Constitution and its imposition of mandatory broadcasting fees,” headed by the parliament’s Science, ICT, Broadcasting and Communications Committee’s assistant administrator Park Dae-chul. The newly founded special committee will work with non-governmental organizations to create a movement to refuse the monthly license fee of 2,500 won to KBS, which is collected from the public via electricity bills. 


Rep. Na Kyoung-won speaks during a joint press conference held by the Liberty Korea Party and a special committee Friday at the National Assembly (Yonhap)

During a joint conference of the party leaders and the special committee held Friday morning at the National Assembly, Rep. Na Kyung-won said that “a major question posed by the public network KBS today is whether liberal democracy and the Constitution of the Republic of Korea can be sustained,” arguing that “the neutrality of certain coverage” by the broadcaster is “repeatedly being questioned.”

“The public questions if the status quo (at KBS) should be maintained,” she said. “The neutrality of the press is the life force of democracy. (The party) seeks to rectify the biased views demonstrated by KBS which is financed by the public.”

Rep. Jeong Yong-ki, who chairs the policy planning committee, dismissed “the loss of the media’s function as the watchdog of the government” which he sees as the result of “the Moon administration’s taming of the press.”

Jeong also argued that “while KBS covered Kim Jong-un’s story all day long on the first day of the year, it kept silent on (former investigator at Cheong Wa Dae) Kim Tae-woo and (former Ministry of Finance and Economy official) Shin Jae-min,” both of whom accused the presidential office of manipulating the issuance of treasury bonds.

The party’s special committee’s head Rep. Park placed blame on KBS for “leading the media’s shameless assistance of the Moon Jae-in administration” and added that it is “a waste of public (money).”

Following the Liberty Korea Party’s launch of a special committee dedicated to tackling KBS, a union of media workers held a press conference at the National Assembly’s press center at 3 p.m. 

“The Liberty Korea Party’s habit of requesting license fee increases when it’s the ruling party, and opposing mandatory fee collection when it’s the opposition party is intolerable,” said Lee Kyung-ho, who leads the National Union of Media Workers at KBS.

In the labor union’s statement released on the same day, it said it would like to “ask in return who it is to be blamed for the harm done to the Constitutional value of the press and regress of democracy — today’s KBS or the Liberty Korea Party.”

In a previous incarnation, the conservative party had also argued against KBS’ mandatory license fee during the democratic President Roh Moo-hyun’s presidency in 2003. However, it supported increases to the fee under the conservative administrations of Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak.

The National Union of Media Workers opposed the fee increase under the previous conservative administration.

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)