Criticizing President Park Is Dangerous in Korea – Le Monde

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Le Monde: Criticizing President Park And Her Familiy Entails Risk

Re Monde's online article reports criticizing of President Park and her family become dangerous in South Korea

Le Monde published an online edition of the article on Oct. 15 saying that it is dangerous to criticize President Park Geun-hye and her family in South Korea.

French daily Le Monde has recently published an article strongly criticizing a string of severe setbacks to the freedom of press and speech in South Korea, citing the indictment of Kato Tatsuya, a former Seoul bureau chief of Japanese daily Sankei, the trial of those who raised questions in the death of President Park’s relative, and stronger surveillance of social networking services. The report gained international traction and laid bare the suppression of press freedom in South Korea to the European people.

According to NewsPro–a website that specializes in translating foreign media reports into Korean–in an online article published on Oct. 15th (local time) entitled, “Korean Media Under Surveillance,” the French daily said, “Prosecuting the Japanese correspondent to Seoul is creating new tension between South Korea and Japan, and this tension comes as the South Korean government steps up their supervision of SNS and mass media.”

The article said, “The indicted journalists, the SNS being monitored, and the freedom of press and speech find themselves languishing during these rough times in South Korea.”

In regards to the whereabouts of president Park during the seven-hour period on the day when the Sewol ferry disaster took place, the article said, “Her absence has been dealt with in a parliamentary audit in July, and has continued to stir up controversy.” It added, “Seoul bureau chief Sankei Kato based his controversial article on local Korean media reports, including the conservative Korean daily Chosun Ilbo, claiming that during those hours, President Park may have been together with a divorced former aide.”

Le Monde went on to say that the Japanese journalist was indicted through the report of a local conservative group in a country where a defamation charge can lead to a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. The French newspaper quoted South Korea’s center-leftist vernacular daily Hangyoreh, describing the indictment as possibly a politically-motivated incrimination. The article also quoted Japanese government spokesman Yoshide Shiga who said on Oct. 9th, “This indictment is very worrisome in light of press freedom and bilateral ties between Japan and South Korea.” Le Monde said that the following day, Reporters Without Border wrote that the issue of President Park’s whereabouts “falls under the category of public interests.”

U.S. Department of State Spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quoted by the article as saying that the United States administration expressed concerns over Korean law stipulating defamation charges can be brought to criminal trials.

In another example demonstrating the increasing danger of criticizing President Park and her family in South Korea, the newspaper cited the criminal trial of Kim Eo-jun and Joo Jin-woo.

Le Monde says, “the two Korean journalists are being prosecuted over defamation charges of President Park’s younger brother Park Ji-man, and are awaiting a December court verdict.” “If they committed a wrongful act, it’s just that they raised allegations that the president’s younger brother may have been involved in the 2011 death of President Park’s two relatives.”

Le Monde also voiced its worries about the South Korean prosecution, which seeks to look into what’s going on in SNS, including Kakao Talk, South Korea’s No. 1 messaging app. Le Monde said, “South Korean law authorities go as far as to monitor social networking services, after President Park said on Sept. 16th, “Disparagement of the president is going overboard.” The regulatory move prompts “numerous South Koreans to depart Kakao Talk for Telegram, a Russian messaging app known for offering better security to users.

According to Le Monde, “new subscribers to the Russian app say hello to each other, saying, “Welcome to your Cyber refuge.”

Eonomist publishes an article anti-democratic restrictions the Park administration imposed

The British weekly Economist also offers a sharp criticism about a series of authoritarian moves made by the Park administration, describing the illiberal setbacks in South Korea as “Insult to injury.”

Comments from Daum:


If someone criticizes the government, he is called a commie. But the way the government suppress the speech freedom shows they are more of commies.

하늘의 별:

National decency takes a plunge internationally!


I didn’t know who she might have been with. I saw it for the first time in this foreign news report.


We have already been reduced to a backward country. You don’t have to go any further than looking at the Sewol incident.


A foreign news media outlet wrote this kind of report, but our media is like a North Korean broadcaster.[He appears to criticize the silence of local media.] ke ke ke. That just makes me laugh. That’s why Sankei raised the question about whether South Korea is a country of human rights.


Be they president or not, roundly criticizing someone for misbehavior is the right thing to do. No exceptions should be made for Park Chung-hee, Roh Moo-hyun, Kim Dae-jung, Kim Young-sam.

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