South Korea leader slammed for banning broadcaster from plane

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Journalists’ organizations say South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol attacked press freedom when his office banned a television broadcaster’s crew from traveling on his presidential plane this week for allegedly biased reporting.

Yoon previously accused MBC of undermining the country’s alliance with the US after posting a video suggesting he insulted members of US Congress following a meeting with US President Joe Biden in New York in September.

Yoon’s office told MBC it would not provide the broadcaster with “reporting assistance” during its upcoming trips to Cambodia and Indonesia for meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. and the Group of 20 because of what he described as “repeated distortions and biased reporting” on diplomatic issues.

Yoon on Thursday doubled down on his decision to exclude MBC reporters from his plane, saying “important national interests” were at stake. Yoon is leaving for Cambodia on Friday to attend ASEAN meetings and he will be in Indonesia the following week for the G-20 meetings.

“The reason the President uses so much taxpayers’ money to travel abroad is because important national interests are at stake and that’s also why we provided assistance to journalists covering diplomatic and security issues. “, said Yoon. “(I hope) the decision can be understood from that perspective,” he said of letting MBC reporters get off his plane.

In statements provided to The Associated Press, MBC said Yoon’s office ignored press freedom and democratic principles and would always send journalists to Cambodia and Indonesia on alternate flights to cover Yoon’s trip. Yoon in order to serve the “public’s right to know”. coalition of journalists’ organizations, including the Korea Journalists Association and the National Union of Media Workers, issued a statement demanding that Yoon’s office withdraw what it described as an “unconstitutional and historic restriction on reports,” and for presidential officials involved in the decision to step down.

“The presidential plane is operated with taxpayers’ money and each media outlet pays with its own money to cover reporting costs,” they said. They compared the incident to when the White House, under former US President Donald Trump, suspended CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press card after he had a heated conversation with Trump at a press conference. hurry.

“To expose and monitor how the President as a public figure discharges his public responsibilities and duties is an essential part of democracy. We cannot suppress our astonishment that the President’s office confuses journalists’ use of the aircraft presidential with the use of private property and considers it an extended charity by Yoon Suk Yeol, the individual,” the groups said.

In September, MBC filmed Yoon talking to aides and senior diplomats after a brief chat with Biden on the sidelines of UN General Assembly meetings. While the audio was unclear, Yoon could be heard using what appeared to be indecent language during comments, which the broadcaster captioned, “Wouldn’t it be too embarrassing for Biden if those idiots from the legislature did not approve? Yoon’s meeting with Biden came after they both gave speeches in support of the Global Fund, an international campaign to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The Biden administration has pledged $6 billion in US contributions to the initiative through 2025, but it is awaiting congressional approval. Yoon’s government has pledged $100 million.

Yoon’s office later insisted he wasn’t talking about the US Congress or Biden. Kim Eun-hye, Yoon’s spokesman, said he feared South Korea’s opposition-controlled National Assembly might reject his plans to contribute $100 million. She insisted that the word heard by MBC as Biden was actually “nal-li-myeon,” a phrase that can be used to describe something being thrown around.

After returning to Seoul, Yoon said the media could put South Korea’s security at risk by “damaging the alliance with information that differs from the facts.” He has not yet clarified whether he described South Korean lawmakers as “idiots”.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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