Jack-Booted Censorship at KBS

New Yoon appointee wasted no time to sack journalists critical of the administration.

Jack-Booted Censorship at KBS

Photo: New KBS chief Park Min issuing a statement on the TV station's claimed bias. Credit: Media Today.

On November 12, the Yoon Suk-yeol 윤석열 administration appointed Park Min 박민 as the new head of the Korea Broadcasting Service (KBS), South Korea’s largest television and radio station, which is publicly owned in a manner similar to England’s BBC or Japan’s NHK.

Park came to the post with no television or radio experience, having spent his entire career as a newspaper journalist at the conservative Munhwa Ilbo 문화일보, but this scarcely mattered to Yoon. Nor did it matter that Park’s confirmation hearing before the National Assembly 국회 revealed that he refused to pay local taxes and fines at least 52 times, and was implicated in draft-dodging and graft.

Once appointed, Park wasted no time cracking down on liberal journalists at KBS. On the day of his appointment, KBS announced that it would cancel Ju Jin-u Live 주진우 라이브, its most popular political radio show, effective immediately. KBS also canceled The Live 더 라이브, its most watched political talk show, and sacked the two main anchors of its nightly news program. The last was particularly galling, as Lee So-jeong 이소정 of KBS News 9 was South Korea’s first woman to be the main anchor of a nightly network news program, a role that typically makes the main anchor the face of a TV station’s news programming.

The results of the firings and cancellations were immediately visible: On November 14, KBS News 9’s first four news reports consisted of Yoon’s remarks and criticism of North Korea, followed by a statement from Park Min that KBS News had previously had a partisan bias.

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