Wednesday, September 10, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, September 8 2008] The Taboos of the Korean Press, by Kim Dae-joong

The press should know no sanctuary, they say. It shouldn’t if it is to perform the roles of checks and criticism. Yet it does, though perhaps they should be called taboos rather than sanctuaries, not in the sense that they are too sacred for the press to criticize but that nothing is to be gained if they are. The Korean press has three taboos: region, women and religion. Nobody has defined them for us; the conclusion has been reached through long experience. It is perhaps because region, women and religion concern something innate and metaphysical.

The press had big trouble with regional issues. On issues of regional discrimination, everyone pretends to be resolute, but they are so sensitive that nobody can get around them. But there are minor issues that do not go to the heart of essential regional sentiment. An example is the description of the people of a certain province as hard headed “potatoes.” Unintentional use of the common phrase invited a newspaper boycott drive for this newspaper on the grounds that we disparaged the province. There is thus a widespread feeling among journalists that even if they try to give fair and balanced coverage to a certain region, the response of the locals will be lukewarm at best.

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