Thursday, November 20, 2008


[Hankyoreh, November 20 2008] Textbook battle erupts in Busan

[Hankyoreh, November 11 2008] Seoul schools superintendent pushes to change history textbooks

[Hankyoreh, November 10 2008] Education authorities stir opposition with new ‘textbook course’

Information on the wealth of Constitutional Court judges absent from court’s Web site

[Hankyoreh, November 15 2008]

Court’s explanation for why the information was eliminated from its official gazette is inconsistent with government practice

It was confirmed that the nine judges of the Constitutional Court, which recently ruled that the tax is partly unconstitutional, have not publicized information on their assets in an official gazette posted on the court’s Web site. With growing criticism that the court’s decision has left the comprehensive real estate tax without substance in favor of wealthy home owners, such as those living in Seoul’s affluent Gangnam district, there are now growing suspicions about why the court has not yet provided a clear explanation for why they did not publish the information as required by law.

Heartbreak, bigger stake

[Hankyoreh, November 15 2008]

An Internet activist being persecuted for his views and activism says he “is now going to erase Korea” from his heart.

President Lee Myung-bak feels the same, saying he, too, “has a lot of things to erase,” mainly current events programs on television.

Korean Broadcasting System has plans to cancel two current-affairs television programs, “Sisa Tonight” and “Media Focus,” which the government has identified as being critical of its policies. The cancellation is part of a recent series of actions that have caused tempers to flare at the broadcaster, including instasllation of a bi-weekly radio address by Lee and threats of a personnel reshuffle for producers involved in production of the programs scheduled for cancellation. KBS producers accuse the broadcaster eliminating editorial freedoms in compliance with the government’s attempt to gain tighter control of the media.

Log out and Tune in

[Hankyoreh, November 12 2008]

Students of Seoul Women’s University in Gongreung-dong turn in their mobile phones on Log Out Day, November 11, designed by the university to free students from networks for a day.

Instead of using their mobile phones or Internet services, students hand-wrote postcards and sent them via regular mail.

A university official said the campaign was designed to give students the space to rediscover themselves after being lost in the flood of information that surrounds us every day.

KBS producer launches sit-in

[Hankyoreh, November 11 2008]

Protest prompted by KBS’s decision to air regular presidential radio addresses and cancel 2 television programs

“Establishment of the president’s radio address and cancellation of (television) programs (critical of the government) signal the destruction of the justification for KBS’s existence.”

On the morning of November 10, Kim Deok-jae, the chairman of the Producers’ Association at the Korean Broadcasting System, launched a sit-in against plans by the public broadcaster to cancel two current-affairs television programs, “Sisa Tonight” and “Media Focus,” and its decision to air regular radio addresses by President Lee Myung-bak. Kim took action after the protests of he and other producers were ignored by KBS management.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


"Macau, November 19, 2008 - Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a leading provider of mobile phones and telecom systems, is proud to announce that it has won the 'Asia Mobile Award' for 'Best Mobile Broadband handset/device' with Samsung Innov8 by GSMA, the global trade group for the mobile industry. The award, announced at the Asia Mobile Award gala dinner on November 18th, praised Samsung Innov8's almighty multimedia features and superb camera quality."

KOREA IT TIMES - LG and PRADA debut in contemporary mobility

"London, UK, 18 November, 2008 - LG Electronics (LG), a worldwide technology and design leader in mobile communications, and PRADA, world¡¯s leading fashion brand, today announce the global launch of the highly anticipated successor to the PRADA Phone by LG. "

Samsung's cell phone for kids helps escape from dangerous situations

Futurize Korea reports (orig. by Samsung Mobile Press) Samsung's new mobile phone release oriented especially for children. Samsung's press release describes the new model as "Astonishingly Adorable Mobile Phone with Fun Characters". The phone has "various safety functions such as SOS Call, SOS Message and Fake Call [?]" and its "users can be directly linked to their family members and friends in emergent situations and even easily escape from dangerous situations. With Samsung Tobi, parents are always assured that their children are equipped with safety tools to keep them as secure as possible."

See also IT Times Korea's story on the subject.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Log out and Tune in [Hankyoreh, November 12 2008]

"Students of Seoul Women’s University in Gongreung-dong turn in their mobile phones on Log Out Day, November 11, designed by the university to free students from networks for a day. Instead of using their mobile phones or Internet services, students hand-wrote postcards and sent them via regular mail.
A university official said the campaign was designed to give students the space to rediscover themselves after being lost in the flood of information that surrounds us every day."

[Thanks to Seoul Digital City]

History textbook causes an uproar in South Korea - International Herald Tribune

"SEOUL: To conservative critics, a popular textbook's version of how U.S. and Soviet forces took control of Korea from Japanese colonialists in 1945 exemplifies all that's wrong with how South Korean history is taught to young people today.

The facts no one disputes are that, at the end of World War II, the Soviet military swept into northern Korea and installed a friendly Communist government while a U.S. military administration assumed control in the south.

But then the high school textbook takes a direction that is raising hackles among conservatives. It argues that the Japanese occupation was followed not by a free, self-determining Korea, but by a divided peninsula dominated once again by foreign powers.

'It was not our national flag that was hoisted to replace the Japanese flag,' reads the textbook published by Kumsung Publishing. 'The flag that flew in its place was the American Stars and Stripes. Our liberation through the Allied forces' victory prevented us from building a new country according to our own wishes.'

The critics include the government of President Lee Myung Bak, the conservative who came to power this year with a pledge to overturn a decade of liberal policies that Lee said coddled North Korea and denigrated the U.S. alliance - the alliance that liberals, for their part, accused of propping up South Korean dictators in the name of anti-Communism. [Read the rest.]"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Photos of Kim Jong-il appear with increasing regularity

[Hankyoreh, November 7 2008]

Some speculate that timing of the reports is no accident in their coincidence with the conclusion of the U.S. election

Reports of public appearances by North Korean National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il from the North’s state media outlets have become more frequent as of late. A series of recent news reports indicate that Kim may be returning to his post and emerging from his reclusive state.

Kim Jong-il: Round three

[Hankyoreh, November 6 2008]

The North Korean news outlet Korean Central Television released photographs of North Korean National Defence Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il at a military base near Pyongyang on November 5, including this one, in which Kim applauds soldiers at a training session.

[Interview] Wikipedia founder critical of real-name Internet system

[Hankyoreh, November 5 2008]

S. Korea’s system is not in accordance with a free democracy, Wales says

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, 43, has indicated the dangers of government Internet controls in South Korea. In a speech delivered at an international conference on the entrepreneurial spirit held Monday at Seoul’s Walkerhill Hotel under the auspices of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Wales criticized the government’s policy, saying, “A ‘real-name Internet system’ is not in accordance with a free democracy. I hope that the Korean government seriously considers that.” In 2001, Wales founded the online encyclopedia Wikipedia (, and is chairman emeritus of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates the encyclopedia. He was also chosen as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by the news weekly Time. He sat down for a separate interview with The Hankyoreh following his lecture Monday.

Producers protest the presidential radio address

[Hankyoreh, November 4 2008]

Korea Broadcasting Station producers protest the station’s airing of regular radio addresses by President Lee Myung-bak and call on those responsible to resign, in the KBS lobby on Yeouido on November 3.

The radio addresses are produced by Cheong Wa Dae, which stipulated that they be aired without editing by the station. This led to accusations the administration is trying to use the airwaves for its own benefit.

National Assembly Research Service doubts criminalization of ‘cyber insults’

[Hankyoreh, November 3 2008]

‘China is the only nation worldwide legally stipulating criminalization of cyber insults,’ NARS says

The National Assembly Research Service expressed doubts Sunday about the effectiveness of the criminalization of “cyber insults” currently being pursued by the Grand National Party.

In a written response to the research analysis “Effects of Introducing the Criminalization of Cyber Insults,” which was commissioned by Democratic Party National Assembly member Shin Hak-yong, NARS declared, “The goal of introducing the criminalization of cyber insults is to reduce malicious posts on the Internet, and there is a need to consider whether it is the best plan for doing so.”

Culture, IT join hands

[ News, November 13 2008]

"The Korean Culture and Information Service (KOIS), an agency in charge of overseas promotion of Korean culture under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, together with the Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion (KADO), an agency specializing in bridging the digital divide at home and abroad under the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, have joined hands to promote Korea's image around the world."

New pictures of Kim Jong-il released by N. Korean media

[Hankyoreh, November 3 2008]

The North ‘wants the next U.S. administration to take an active approach to U.S.-North Korea negotiations,’ analyst says

The North Korean news outlets Korean Central News Agency, Central Television, and the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed pictures of North Korean National Defence Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il at a football match between North Korean military teams November 2.

Show of solidarity

[Hankyoreh, October 31 2008]

Reporters from various media outlets dress in black to show their solidarity with the union of YTN, a cable news broadcasting company, on October 30 at the National Assembly. The union has battled with the network for over 100 days to have YTN President Gu Bon-hong resign. Gu, who is a close aide of President Lee Myung-bak, was appointed in July amid protest that his appointment was part of Lee’s attempts to gain tighter control over the media.

The National Union of Media Workers also called on its members to dress in black, designating the occasion as A Day for YTN and Fair Broadcasting. Later in the day at 7 p.m., a “Citizen Culture Festival for YTN and Fair Broadcasting” was held at Seoul Station Plaza with 800 people in attendance to support the YTN union, the leader and 5 staff members of which were fired early this month.

[Editorial] Truth and the spirit of a free press

[Hankyoreh, October 30 2008]

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission had officially confirmed that the predecessor to the National Intelligence Service, the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, was behind the Park Chung-hee administration’s attacks on companies advertising in the newspaper the DongA Ilbo in 1974 and the newspaper’s sudden firing of dozens of its journalists in 1975. According to the commission’s report, the DongA Ilbo was in collusion with the KCIA in going along with demands that certain journalists be removed from their jobs, essentially handing over its personnel management authority to the government, meaning the newspaper has responsibility to bear for its participation in suppression of press freedoms.

DongA Ilbo and the government are told to apologize for past civil rights violations

[Hankyoreh, October 30 2008]

Truth and Reconciliation Commission report finds DongA colluded with KCIA to fire journalists during Park Chung-hee era

In the latest of a series of findings, the official government Truth and Reconciliation Commission has determined that one of the more famous press suppression cases of the Park Chung-hee years, the “DongA Ilbo Advertising Coercion and Forced Layoff Case” during 1974 and 1975, was orchestrated by the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA, now known as the National Intelligence Service), and that the DongA Ilbo itself went along with what was unjust oppression by the Yusin regime, as it was called.

In a report issued October 29, the commission formally recommends that the state and the DongA Ilbo “apologize to those who were fired and make appropriate amends” for what the report defines as “a case in which the state power apparatus, in the form of the KCIA, engaged in serious civil rights violations.”

YTN protesters march into day 100

[Hankyoreh, October 25 2008]

7,600 journalists release petition calling for an independent media free from political influence

Media movement members had a full-scale gathering in front of the YTN building on the 100th day of the fight to prevent YTN President Gu Bon-hong from returning to work. A situation statement signed by more than 7,600 journalists was posted in front of the YTN building on Friday evening, and hundreds of former and current journalists and ordinary citizens applied pressure to the company, surrounding the building with large banners listing the names of the signatories.

On Friday morning, the 99th day of the fight to prevent him from returning to work, Gu once again failed to gain entry. Pushing through union members and saying that he had to go to work because it was payday, he was blocked by the labor union and turned around after 15 minutes.

Companies and politicians deleting criticism from the Net

[Hankyoreh, October 23 2008]

Law provision allowing ‘defamatory’ Internet posts to be deleted is increasingly being abused by those in power

In a growing number of cases, the provision allowing portal sites to temporarily delete Internet posts accused of being defamatory is being abused by power groups like big business conglomerates and members of the National Assembly.

The Communication Decency Act stipulates that “when it is hard to determine whether an Internet post infringes on the rights of others, or when a fight over its legitimacy is expected,” a portal site may prevent access to the content within a period of 30 days.

Japanese media indicate N. Korea set to report on Kim Jong-il’s health

[Hankyoreh, October 20 2008]

S. Korean government says it has no evidence that an announcement will be made

The Japanese news media continue to suggest North Korea is about to make an “important announcement.” The South Korean government, on the other hand, says it has confirmed nothing of that nature and that the North has not acted in a way that would arouse more than the usual level of observation.

International Federation of Journalists to investigate media suppression

[Hankyoreh, October 16 2008]

Investigators would examine the mass firing of journalists at YTN, visit Cheong Wa Dae and interview National Assembly members

The Journalists’ Association of Korea is requesting that the International Federation of Journalists dispatch a team of investigators to examine the situation of media suppression by the Lee Myung-bak administration, including the mass firing of journalists at YTN. As the IFJ has also stated that it will send investigators if asked, it is anticipated that Korea’s media situation will rise as an area of interest in international society.

The JAK held an emergency meeting of the heads of chapters located in Seoul on October 15 with the participation of a delegation including JAK President Kim Kyung-ho and more than 10 Seoul chapter heads, deciding unanimously to make the request. Previously, IFJ President Jim Boumelha visited the JAK on October 7 and stated that the IFJ would send an investigative team if the JAK made a formal request.

KBS radio producers protest president’s radio address

[Hankyoreh, October 14 2008]

Producers association declares it will mobilize if KBS management shows signs of airing future presidential addresses

The first radio address by President Lee Myung-bak, which was aired on the morning of October 13 by KBS 1, the only terrestrial broadcaster that carried the segment, is provoking an industry-led backlash. In particular, KBS producers are strongly protesting the programming decision, demanding that KBS punish those who they say quietly allowed the Blue House to infringe upon their editorial authority.