More than 3,000 journalists and other employees at Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) have been striking since 4 September in response to a call from the National Union of Media Workers (NUMW) backed by the Journalists' Association of Korea (JAK).
As in previous strikes in 2010, 2012 and 2016, the journalists are protesting against political pressure on the public media, which began a decade ago. Their demands included the removal of the heads of KBS and MBS, who are seen as having been imposed by the previous government.
They are also demanding the reinstatement of many colleagues who were unjustly fired in the past.
End the stalemate
RSF urges the KCC, whose powers include appointing the members of the governing boards of the public media, to end the stalemate by quickly replacing the two disputed presidents, Koh Dae-Young at KBS and Kim Jang-Kyum at MBC.
RSF also calls on the South Korean authorities to overhaul the regulations that govern the public media so that their journalists can henceforth enjoy complete editorial independence.
South Korea appears to be emerging from a dark decade for media freedom, in which it fell from 31st position in RSF’s Press Freedom Index in 2006 to 63rd in 2017.
Hopes of improvement have been raised by human right lawyer Moon Jae-in’s election as president in May. When an RSF delegation visited in July, President Moon’s transition team undertook to ensure that South Korea is back at 30th place in the index by the end of his term.