We are appalled by and subsequently condemn the decision to dismantle Mediact, South Korea’s renowned public media centre, and force its staff to resign.
Mediact has been involved in the promotion of communication rights and democracy, media literacy, intellectual property rights and public interest media in Korea.
The Korea Film Council (Kofic), however, has made a decision, overseen by the Culture Ministry, to remove its contract with Mediact for the coordination and research of public media policy and the provision of media education, training and facilities. Mediact is being dismantled and kicked out and Kofic is now giving the contract to a new entity with no experience. This will certainly cause immense damage to the Korean media industry and freedom of expression in the country.
The larger backdrop is that the democratic advances previously secured are now in danger of erosion. Over the last two years, the Lee Myung-bak regime has introduced new media laws and attempted to curb the country’s free and independent media.
We urge the government of South Korean government to instruct the KOFIC together with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to reverse this decision immediately.
Such a move would not only be honourable but also go a long way towards promoting arts and creativity, and freedom of expression in South Korea.
Dr Mustafa K Anuar and Anil Netto
27 January 2010