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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

LOOKING AT THE  FREEDOM HOUSE MAP OF PRESS FREEDOM 2014 – THE ONLY UN MEMBER STATES RATED AS ALLOWING FOR FREE PRESS ARE – JAPAN, TAIWAN, and ISRAEL   JUST THREE STATES.

RATED AS PARTIALLY FREE ARE – MONGOLIA, SOUTH KOREA, INDIA, BHUTAN, BANGLADESH, LEBANON, KUWAIT, HONG KONG (the PART OF CHINA that is governed with the help of an agreement with the UK), THE PHILIPPINES, INDONESIA, and EAST TIMOR. Any other country is just – “NOT FREE.”

Judging from the above mentioned map,  it is clear that FREEDOM OF THE PRESS is not the “Forte” of Asia, Africa, or Latin America – so why does misbehavior of South Korea excite us?  The answer is to be found in the fact that this is the home country of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who seemingly has allowed the UN as a whole to fall behind when it comes to allowing for  truly Free Access to a Free Press in its dealing with the media. That, rather then South Korea per se, is the true content of the following complaint in Matthew Lee’s reporting from the UN.

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As S. Korea Cracks Down on Questioning of Park, Ban’s UN Notably Silent.

By Matthew Russell Lee – Reporting from inside the UN for Inner City Press.

UNITED NATIONS, August 31 — A recent and ongoing press freedom case in South Korea has echoed all the way to the UN in New York. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was a long-time South Korean diplomat before taking up his UN post. But he has been notably quiet about press freedom generally, and now strikingly, with regard to South Korea.

  The government in Seoul has summoned Sankei Shimbun’s Tatsuya Kato on possible charges of defaming President Park Geun-hye, and has blocked him from leaving South Korea in the interim.

  At issue is an article that Tatsuya Kato wrote and Sankei Shimbun published, citing the South Korean publication Chosun Ilbo, that during the sinking of the Sewol ferry in April, President Park was not seen for seven hours and may have been trysting with a recently divorced former aide.

  While understandably causing anger, such a report should not trigger travel bans or criminal charges.

  It is particularly troubling that while Tatsuya Kato of Japan’s Sankei has been targeted, the South Korean publication Chosun Ilbo from which he quoted is not being targeted. This disparate treatment of journalists, based on nationality or other factors, should not be tolerated.

 

{SO THE ISSUE IS NOT ONLY FREEDOM OF THE PRESS – BUT MISUSE OF CENSORSHIP FOR FOREIGN POLICY REASONS AND THE QUESTION HOW THIS IS TRANSFERRED TO THE UN PROPER?  THIS AS ADDED COMMENT BY SUSTAINABILITANK.INFO}

  As a comparison, when Afghanistan recently imposed a similar travel ban on a New York Times reporter, not only the US State Department but also many others spoke out.

  But when at the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman was twice — three times, actually — asked about South Korea’s treatment of Sankei Shimbun’s Tatsuya Kato, only platitudes emerged.

Continuing the trend on August 31, Ban Ki-moon’s comment on the coup in Lesotho did not mention that the military took over the television and radio stations there.

  The day’s New York Times recounted how South Korean artist Hong Sung-dam had his painting depicting Park Geun-hye and his view of her role in the sinking of the Sewol ferry censored by authorities in Gwangju.

  Some including the new Free UN Coalition for Access, an anti-censorship alliance established at the UN during and counter to Ban Ki-moon’s time in control, have noted a trend toward ignoring some attacks on the media. How far back does it go? What will happen in South Korea, and at the UN?

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