Thursday, February 17, 2011

Only a free press can hurt Kim Jong-il

Reporters Without Borders and several independent North Korean media marked North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s birthday on February 16th by giving a news conference at the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club about the efforts of Seoul-based exile media, especially radio stations, to offer North Koreans an alternative to the regime’s propaganda.

The news conference was part of a campaign that Reporters Without Borders launched on January 17 to draw attention to Kim’s status as a “Predator of Press Freedom” and to drum up support for the exile radio stations. The campaign’s graphic has been a crumpled photo of the “Dear Leader” accompanied by the words: “Only a free press can hurt him.”

The campaign accused Kim and his family of being directly responsible for the suppression of all press freedom in North Korea and urged South Korea’s government and civil society to provide more support for the exile radio stations, which are trying to break down the wall of propaganda and political control.

Several North Korean exiles addressed the news conference. Kang-Il Jung, a former detainee at the Yo Duk prison camp, described the plight of journalists in North Korea’s labor camps. Chul-Hyun Jang, a former journalist with North Korea’s Chosun Central TV, stressed the importance of independent radio stations for the population. They can “rescue North Koreans from their daily brainwashing,” he said, adding that “radio offers the only way to bring down Kim Jong-il.”

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