The Korea Herald


KBS unions start vote on full-scale strike

By Korea Herald

Published : May 21, 2014 - 20:35

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Two labor unions of the nation‘s largest broadcaster KBS on Wednesday began a vote to decide whether to carry out a full-scale strike, calling for their company president to step down.

KBS journalists have been boycotting their news production since Monday, demanding the broadcaster’s president Gil Hwan-young resign for allegedly interfering in news reporting in favor of the government.

The unions, boasting some 2,500 and 1,200 members respectively, said they will hold the vote until Tuesday next week and Friday, respectively.

Gil, once again refused to step down, signaling that the crisis could be prolonged.

“I‘ll never resign, yielding to a politically motivated instigation,” he said in a statement aired live on the company’s inside broadcasting system. He then vowed to sternly deal with any “illegal strike” by the unionists.

Gil came under fire after Kim Sigon, former bureau chief of KBS news, disclosed last week that Gil yielded to the presidential office‘s pressure to produce news reports favorable to the Park Geun-hye administration, especially in the coverage of last month’s ferry disaster.

The chief editor said that Cheong Wa Dae officials have repeatedly pressed him for news favorable to the administration while Gil also has directly ordered him to remove or add particular news items.

Kim said that Cheong Wa Dae also pressed him to refrain from airing news critical of the Coast Guard, the government maritime police agency at the center of public criticism for its botched rescue attempt following the April 16 ferry sinking. The accident, one of South Korea‘s worst maritime disasters, left more than 300 people, mostly teenage students, dead or missing.

In the hastily arranged news conference on Monday, the KBS president rejected the allegations, saying that he has no plans to step down. The refusal prompted the KBS journalists to indefinitely extend their boycott, originally scheduled only for Monday. (Yonhap)