Prison, artwork, media bias & control . . .
A court in Seoul has handed down a 12-year sentence to Kim ki-jong for his assault on American Ambassador Mark Lippart back in March. The prosecutors originally asked for 15 years though both the prosecution and defence will have a week to determine if they wish to appeal the decision. (cite)
I like looking at art but, hey, isn’t putting up a painting showing Kim Ki-jong attacking Mark Lippart a bit risqué? a branch of the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) in southwestern Seoul recently displayed the above painting, by Hong Sung-dam and has decided to take it down after reports in local media about the work being more a political endorsement of violence than merely art. The inscription in the art work is as follows:
I have felt despair about these problems for a long time. However, I’ve kept my mouth shut about the despair. On the other hand, Kim Ki-jong expressed it with a knife, though it was just a fruit knife.
The artist takes great liberties with reality. Even Kim Ki-jong, during questioning by the police, stated that “South Korea is a semi-colony of the U.S. and that North Korea has an independent, self-reliant government” and shortly after his arrest, Kim shouted that the U.S.-South Korea war games were an obstacle against a Korean unification” (cite). Imagine that – truth takes a very long holiday, it seems. If I were the ambassador, I might buy this work and hang it somewhere as a part of his tenure, in this space and time. Then again, he could just let his basset hound have a go at it.
Historical revisionism and who(?) audits the auditors
Ten education superintendents on Tuesday released statements opposing state-authored history textbooks in response to a government plan to standardize them. (cite) This controversy has been around for some time, even before 2013 when material in some history textbooks approved by the National Institute of Korean History were deemed controversial.
Currently, Minister of Education Hwang Woo-yea “has insisted that history education be standardized and consistent”. Even Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung commented, on September 2 of this year, that neutral state-authored history books, based on facts, were needed to prevent confusion among students.
The real question is whose version of history is going to be told and how will it be told.
As in the recent debate over displaying the Confederate battle flag in America, what is taught as history also reflects a societies’ values. A good question that should be asked and answered is how can the mutual histories of the ROK and DPRK be narrated so as to best serve the interests of all Koreans. Reunification will take place and a mutual history that preserves the dignity of both groups will be an important and positive step in the right direction, even if some viewpoints are difficult for Saenuri legislators and North Koreans to comprehend.
Almost simultaneously, the Saenuri Dang has also decided to go after the major internet portals in South Korea, accusing them of lacking both professionalism and being biased. Per the JoongAng Ilbo:
The Saenuri Party said changing how portals handle news will be a key issue for this year’s audit of state affairs. (The National Assembly will begin an audit), under the order of Chairman Kim Moo-sung, vowed to scrutinize the nation’s largest web portals, such as Naver and Daum.
“Precious news articles produced by genuine journalists and the media autonomy are being distorted by the power of giant Internet portal sites,” (claimed) Rep. Lee Jae-young, who was recently appointed to head the ruling party’s think tank, the Yeouido Institute. (cite)
Why would Lee Jae-young feel this way?
According to research piece performed by Choi Hyung-woo from the School of Communications at Sogang University (Big data analysis of mobile news main pages of portal sites), after analyzing the headlines of 50,236 news postings, Choi determined that both Naver and Daum “had more content using negative expressions about the Blue House and Park Geun-hye administration than content using positive expressions“.
<Spit coffee on screen here>
The report also said Chairman Moon Jae-in of the NPAD was featured on the main pages of the portals more frequently than Saenuri Chairman Kim (Jealousy?). While 153 articles on the main pages were about Moon, 101 were about Kim, the report said. “Portal sites are not media companies, but they are deciding which articles from which media will be put on the main pages and how high they will be positioned in the layouts,” Rep. Lee said. “They are also editing the headlines. This is a de facto act of journalism, and this a serious issue.” the portals have no oversight or limits. “To ensure the independence of the media, conglomerates are only allowed to own certain stakes in broadcasters and newspapers, but portals are performing the role of the media, and conglomerates own them 100 percent. This is a serious issue. . . Portals have absolute influence over society, particularly the young, and it is unacceptable for them to distribute distorted information (information that makes Saenuri Dang look bad).”
So, here is the really funny part: if Daum and Naver are producing articles that are more negative towards Saenuri Dang, and Saenuri Dang representatives are in a position to audit Daum and Naver, isn’t this also a conflict of interest on the part of Saenuri politicians who have a vested interest in such an audit, especially just months in advance of general elections? Who audits the Saenuri Dang when they actively support the activities of the NIS electioneering and after the libellous slander used in the Chosun Ilbo – a notorious agent for Saenuri Dang interests – against the Prosecutor General’s Office, how can the public trust any audit performed by Saenuri Dang members? When Park Guen-hye said “They (DPRK) don’t have to come to the South, but they can always create social confusion and manipulate public opinion using cyberspace” (cite) was she referring to Daum and Naver!?
How is it that business leaders in large companies like Naver and Daum could possibly act as a proxy for DPRK concerns?
Are all media companies that criticize the Saenuri Dang working for the DPRK!?
Considering its claims, I think the Saenuri Dang has much to account for itself.