News

February 16, 2011 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Seoul news conference in support of exile radio station on Kim Jong-il’s birthday


Reporters Without Borders and several independent North Korean media marked North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s birthday today by giving a news conference at the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club about the efforts of Seoul-based exile media, especially radio stations, to offer North Koreans an alternative to the regime’s propaganda. The news conference was part of a campaign that Reporters Without Borders launched on 17 January to draw attention to Kim’s status as a “Predator of Press Freedom” and to drum up support for the exile radio stations. The campaign’s graphic has been a crumpled photo of the “Dear Leader” accompanied by the words: “Only a free press can hurt him.” It took up the slogan of the ad campaign Reporters Without Borders launched last year on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day. The campaign accused Kim and his family of being directly responsible for the suppression of all press freedom in North Korea and urged South Korea’s government and civil society to provide more support for the exile radio stations, which are trying to break down the wall of propaganda and political control. The campaign ad was posted on the Yahoo! Korea news portal (http://kr.yahoo.com/) for two weeks and, to judge by the number of daily clicks, was a big success. Reporters Without Borders’ South Korea representative told the 50 or so journalists who attended the news conference that the campaign’s overarching goal was to draw South Koreans’ attention of the abysmal state of media freedom in North Korea. Several North Korean exiles addressed the news conference. Kang-Il Jung, a former detainee at the Yo Duk prison camp, described the plight of journalists in North Korea’s labour camps. Chul-Hyun Jang, a former journalist with North Korea’s Chosun Central TV, stressed the importance of independent radio stations for the population. They can “rescue North Koreans from their daily brainwashing,” he said, adding that “radio offers the only way to bring down Kim Jong-il.”