South Korea’s National Assembly has spent months wrangling over a controversial set of media reform bills. It appears that all of this was coming to a focal point on Sunday, July 19th.
The Yonhap News agency posted a report about it.
Just a quick backtrack —
I’ve been trying to keep up with media related issues, but I wasn’t aware of the full extent of this one until I met my friend Kyun Soo Kim on a recent Wednesday. He and I were Ph.D. classmates at Alabama, and he’s now teaching in Louisiana. He was visiting relatives in Seoul, so we were able to spend a little time wandering around the city.
We decided to take a self-guided tour of the KBS broadcasting studios, which are located near the National Assembly building. As it turned out, there was a large rally happening nearby. Kyun Soo told me that this particular gathering was in protest of the government’s proposed changes regarding South Korea’s labor laws. I snapped a few photos as the crowd took to the streets.
Now, back to the media issue. Kyun Soo told me that as he was catching up with South Korean politics, he learned that the proposed labor reforms and proposed media reforms are the two most controversial and divisive issues of the day.
The Grand National Party — that’s President Lee Myung-bak’s party — is pushing the media reforms.
As Yonhap reported, the GNP says the bills, which are “centered on lifting a ban on cross-ownership of print media and television stations, would promote competition in the media industry, whereas the [opposition Democratic Party] argues the reform drive reflects a conservative push to control the media and will only benefit the country’s major conservative newspapers.”
The report also states that this issue could result in *actual* physical violence between supporters and opponents.
I’ll have more on this as it develops.