Posted July. 28, 2017 07:35,
Updated July. 28, 2017 07:42
On Thursday, the court sentenced three years in prison to Kim Ki-choon, former President Park Geun-hye’s chief of staff who was accused for allegedly blacklisting artists. Cho Yoon-sun who served as a culture minister under former President Park was sentenced to one year in prison with two years of probation. The court ruled that blacklisting artists who were not in favor of those in power is a clear abuse of power. Kim Sang-ryul, a former presidential culture secretary, was also got jail terms. The court recognized the existence of the controversial blacklist and held those responsible accountable.
The judges ruled that it is difficult to measure the impact of the damage as blacklisting artists is not only against the Constitution that prohibits censorship but also undermines the trust of artists and the people in the fairness of supporting artists. According to the independent counsel and the Board of Audit and Inspection, some 8,000 liberal artists and around 3,000 groups were on the blacklist. While previous administrations often heavily supported specific artists or cultural figures who were in favor of them, this case went overboard.
It was Kim Ki-choon who ordered controlling culture and excluding specific artists or artist groups as if the country were under dictatorship. According to the investigation result by the independent counsel team led by Park Young-soo, former President Park Geun-hye ordered in May 2014, “No budget from the culture ministry should be given to liberal artists.” Kim spearheaded in giving a shape to the direction in an old-fashioned and black-and-white way – blacklisting.
Creative activities that nourish souls start from individuals’ rights to raise objection to reality based on various imagination. This is why we need to protect the freedom of speech. Controlling or suppressing it is a death sentence to creative activities and a challenge to democracy. A policy that makes artists care about those in power and curry favor with them devastates the ecosystem of art and culture.
It is a good opportunity to create a system ensuring the government’s support to artists can be fair and transparent. To help culture and art flourish in this country, it is of utmost importance to make tolerance and reason work beyond the ideology of left and right politics. The word "blacklisting" is a disgrace to a civilized society. The Moon administration should learn a lesson from the ruling so as not to marginalize artists who have a different ideology or political tendency from it.