The Korea Communications Standards Commission announced guidelines that the press should follow in reporting about the inter-Korean summit on Friday. Reports should be based on the government’s statements, according to the commission, and reports’ objectivity, sources and correction of false reports will be intensively monitored. The indication of a possible earlier intervention of the commission reminds us of the dark specter of “press guidelines” during the country’s military dictatorship.
The KCSC mentioned a series of false reports involving a blogger nicknamed “Druking,” which drew controversy over alleged online opinion-rigging, as the grounds for providing preemptive guidelines. Yet, there seems to be no reason to associate the Druking case with the inter-Korean summit. The commission can still deliberate and penalize a media outlet in case of an incorrect report. It is also worrisome that the guidelines will be a national disgrace especially when nearly 900 foreign reporters from 36 countries around the world are gathered to cover the historic summit.
The KCSC obviously moved in such an arrogant way because its deliberation of broadcasters every three to five years is what basically determines the approval of a company’s renewal of permission. However, such a system of reapproval is nonsensical and nowhere to be found in other countries. If the commission goes further to pressure or muzzle the press with its authority to penalize them, it will be an act that seriously threatens the backbone of democracy.