Korean workers ring in new year with strike for press freedom

Media workers demonstrate outside the national assembly, 30 December
Media workers demonstrate outside the national assembly, 30 December

Media workers have launched a general strike against a new set of state laws which they claim will enable the government to seize control of the press.

Submitted by Steven. on January 2, 2009

Thousands have been on strike since late December against the South Korean government's package of seven laws, the so-called MB laws, which they claim will restrict press freedom.

Around 4000 workers have joined the stoppage, from 74 newspaper and broadcasting companies, called by the the National Union of Media Workers.

The Hankyore Journal reported that labor union of public broadcaster Korea Broadcasting System has not joined the strike. But two separate statements were issued by 111 journalists and 159 producers from KBS who have worked there since 2002. The statements expressed support of the NUMW strike and urged the KBS union to participate.

A series of similar statements were issued by the KBS Producers Association, the Journalists Association, the Management Association and the Association of Broadcasting Technicians, all of which are internal organizations of KBS.
Other organizations followed suit. The Forum on the Public Character of the Media, a group of some 200 media scholars, held an emergency press conference the same day at the Korea Press Center and urged the governing party the GNP to immediately withdraw the legislation.
The public servants labor union of the Ministry of Public Administration and Security released a statement in support of the general strike. Similar statements were also released by the writers of current affairs and education TV programs at Munwha Broadcasting Corp., or MBC.
Media workers have also joined demonstrations and candlelight marches with the other groups of workers including teachers and their supporters who have been protesting against the disciplining of teachers who have boycotted the nationwide ilje gosa scholastic achievement assessment.