Posted May. 05, 2017 07:15,
Updated May. 05, 2017 07:19
On Wednesday, it was found out that the allegation reported by the SBS 8 News on Tuesday pointing to “a collusion between the delayed recovery of the Sewol ferry and the upcoming administration” was based on a quote from a 7th grade civil servant at the Public Affairs Office of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. With the credibility of the report put aside, what is fueling even more controversies is an apology broadcasted on Wednesday. The apology went on for five minutes and 30 seconds, far exceeding the original report that ran one minute and 30 seconds. Rep. Park Gwang-won, a journalist-turned-politician who is serving in Minjoo Party presidential candidate Moon Jae-in's camp says that such a length is unprecedented for an apology on the news.
False reports can occur. This case, however, appears highly preposterous as the apology failed to admit to any mistake while running on to be exposed on a news channel for a record-setting amount of time. The anchor claimed that the only mistake they made was a poor handling of gate keeping while admitting to no faults on the part of the reporter who covered the story. In an apology speech Thursday, SBS CEO Park Jeong-hoon said he had “no intention to blame the team or any specific individual that pressed the story.”
It appears that incoming power can strike the type of fear that outgoing power cannot. On March 24, SBS speculated that former President Park Geun-hye delayed the recovery of the ferry on purpose. While it is unclear if the then toothless presidential office filed any complaints about it, it is questionable if the report is true given that a day of delay would have cost the administration hundreds of millions of dollars. While the content of the news draws stark contrast against the report on Tuesday, both share the same nature. This time, Moon merely complained without exerting any pressure, and SBS issued an apology that ran for the longest time in the history of Korean news, before the CEO of the broadcaster himself followed up with yet another apology one day later.
Hong Joon-pyo, a presidential candidate of the Liberty Korea Party, criticized the Minjoo Party, saying, “If the Minjoo Party did pressure the broadcaster, it would constitute a foul political scheme infringing upon the freedom of media, the very foundation of democracy.” However, Hong said that once he took office, he would “swipe out SBS 8 News.” He even made an unhesitant remark that he would “get rid of two out of four major general programming cable TV channels” once he was elected as president. Either way, the future of Korean media looks very bleak.