Chosun Ilbo's Vulgarities Against Liberal Politicians Reach a New Low

Twice in one week, the conservative paper used image and slur evoking prostitution in connection with liberal politicians.

Chosun Ilbo's Vulgarities Against Liberal Politicians Reach a New Low

Photo: Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk expresses outrage on Chosun Ilbo's use of illustration featuring the likeness of him and his daugther. Credit: Facebook of Cho Kuk.

No Korean would mistake Chosun Ilbo 조선일보, South Korea’s largest paper by circulation, as a friend of the liberal government. Yet this week, the conservative paper’s mockery of the Democratic Party 민주당 leaders was especially vulgar, prompting widespread condemnation and pushing the paper to apologize.

On June 21, Chosun Ilbo ran a story about a crime ring in which a young woman pretended to be a prostitute to lure a john, who would be robbed by her male compatriots. The illustration accompanying the story featured the likeness of the former Justice Minister Cho Kuk 조국 전 법무부장관 and his daughter Cho Min 조민, implying they were the john and the fake prostitute. The illustration was recycled from an earlier Chosun Ilbo op-ed from February, titled: “Following Cho Min is not Stalking; There is no Need to be Sorry”. (See previous coverage, “The Cho Kuk Affair.”)

When Cho noted the illustration and expressed public outrage, others noted Chosun Ilbo also used the likeness of President Moon Jae-in 문재인 대통령 wearing a mask to accompany stories concerning COVID-19 cluster infections caused by those who ignored the public health guidelines. Chosun Ilbo later issued an apology, making it the second time it has apologized to Cho Kuk and his daughter; in August 2020, the paper had apologized for running a false report that Ms. Cho demanded an internship position at a hospital using her father’s name.

Then on June 22, Chosun Ilbo ran a story criticizing the Blue House 청와대’s appointment of 25 year old woman Park Seong-min 박성민 in the newly created position of Secretary for Youth Affairs 청년보좌관, a Level 1 public official post 1급. In the Facebook post accompanying the story on Chosun’s Facebook page, the caption read: “Why not create a point-five 쩜오 level position too?” - using a prostitution slang denoting the working women who are not quite in the top tier (i.e. not “tier one”, but “tier one-point-five”). Chosun Ilbo later took down the Facebook post.

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