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[Editorial] Under the cloak of journalism

YouTube media broadcasts live from front of Justice Minister's apartment

A group of reporters with citizen media outlet "The Tamsa TV," a YouTube channel, flocked to the door of the apartment where Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon lives in southern Seoul on Sunday afternoon.

Waiting outside the front door, they rang the doorbell, demanded an interview with Han and looked at a package sitting there. They even pressed keys on the door lock pad, apparently trying to unlock it.

All the while filming this situation and then broadcasting the video live on their channel.

In this process, the floor and number of Han's apartment were revealed.

At the time, only Han's wife and children were reportedly inside the house.

After hearing of the incident later, Han reported the Tamsa reporters to the police on suspicions of housebreaking and retaliatory crime.

The reporters are already under police investigation on charges of stalking Han after he reported to the police that they had tailed his car after his work for about a month.

Earlier in the day, the police had searched the house of one of the accused Tams reporters for evidence in the stalking case but are said to have failed to execute the search properly because he refused to cooperate.

Shortly after the search, they swarmed Han's house. In the footage they filmed, they said "We are going to do news reporting activities here, with an intention to make Han feel the same way as reporters do when their houses are searched by police investigators."

They claimed they went to Han's apartment "for the routine purpose of gathering news and after giving prior notice." But Han said he had not received such notice in any way, thus their visit could be interpreted as trespassing.

Their claim that they did it "for a journalistic interview" is only a pretext to mitigate charges of housebreaking and retaliation.

Nobody has a right to intrude into the private space of a news source without consent under the justification of news reporting. According to a Supreme Court precedent, intrusion into communal space, such as an elevator and hallway in an apartment building, without permission of residents, constitutes housebreaking.

The Tamsa acts as if it is a standard media outlet but few would believe it is. Under the cloak of news reporting, they effectively used force on Han and his family.

Also, their motives could be seen as raising profit to attract attention to their channel mostly with sensational suspicions intended to instigate fury among opponents to the current administration. In this vein, they reported false allegations that President Yoon Suk-yeol drank with Han and about 30 lawyers in a bar in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul and also disclosed the list of those who died in the Itaewon tragedy without consent.

A cellist who was the source of the "Cheongdam-dong bar" allegations confessed to lying, but the channel has not yet apologized.

Recently on a job opening post for web designers, they set an absurd condition that applicants should hate (President) Yoon and (Justice Minister) Han.

Not satisfied with raising groundless allegations, they took things a step further, gathering at the door of Han's house.

Their malignant disinformation snowballed as politicians joined hands with them. Kim Eui-kyeom, a National Assembly member of the opposition Democratic Party of Korea who is a former newspaper reporter, "collaborated" with the Tamsa to push Han and the Yoon administration into the corner. He admitted as such in the National Assembly.

Kim and the party should have filtered out disinformation as responsible politicians, but they rather treated it as truth. There seem to be little differences between them and media seeking to profit from tenuous allegations.

Pseudo-media behave erroneously under the cloak of journalism. Few would accept their news coverage activities as acceptable. The surest way to eradicate their behavior would be through the enforcement of the judicial process.



By Korea Herald (khnews@heraldcorp.com)
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