[Press Release] Condemning KBS President Park Min and KBS PD Lee Je-won Attempting cancellation of a Documentary on the 10th Anniversary of the Sewol Ferry Disaster

by | Mar 27, 2024 | Free Speech | 0 comments

February 19, 2024

KBS, the public broadcaster, is regressing to the dark days of the Korean military dictatorship. A documentary by the KBS documentary team, intended to shed light on the lives of survivors of the Sewol ferry disaster on the 10th anniversary and to support their future endeavors, has now been threatened with cancellation due to an order from the head of production, Lee Je-won.

Lee Je-won, the root cause of the issue, instructed that the documentary scheduled to air on April 18th, two days after the tragedy, be postponed until June. Is it logical to delay a documentary commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sewol ferry disaster to June instead of April? Does Lee Je-won, the head of production, even remember the date of the Sewol ferry disaster? Ordering the production to be done in June practically means canceling the documentary altogether!

The reason for the delay is also baffling. The argument is that the two months before and after the general election are considered the “sphere of influence” of the election, and therefore, the documentary should be postponed to June to avoid influencing the election. How can a documentary aired after the election affect the election itself?

Injecting political considerations into the Sewol ferry disaster, which remains a painful memory in the hearts of victims’ families, survivors, and the Korean people, once again, is nothing short of an insult to the Sewol ferry victims and survivors.

As news of the postponement of the documentary on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy spread, a key participant in the documentary appealed to the public, stating that the program contains such meaningful content that it should not be broadcast unless it is aired on the 10th anniversary of the Sewol ferry disaster. The participant urged the public to support so that the documentary could be aired on time. There are no differences between 2024 and 2015 when victims’ families stormed KBS and demanded a meeting with the president hurting the families with insensitive remarks and the dismissal of the executives.

The ten years since the Sewol ferry disaster have been a time for reflection on KBS as a public broadcaster as well. KBS employees have repeatedly reflected and strived under the motto of “never returning to the past.” However, the recent attempt to cancel the documentary on the 10th anniversary of the Sewol ferry disaster by the President and the PD made all the efforts of KBS employees meaningless.

Once again, public trust in public broadcasting has been shattered by this incident. How long will the public watch as public broadcasting falls? President Park Min and Lee Je-won, head of production at KBS, should immediately halt the attempt to cancel the documentary on the 10th anniversary of the Sewol ferry disaster!

If the documentary on the 10th anniversary of the Sewol ferry disaster does not air as scheduled on April 18th, all citizens who wished for an “unashamed public broadcaster” and hoped for the normalization of media workers and public broadcasting, as promised in 2017, will unite to sternly judge the KBS management, including President Park, and hold them accountable.

Korean version text here


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