South Korean president’s TV network boycott sparks criticism

Seoul, Nov 10 (EFE).- The boycott South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s office adopted against the MBC television network drew criticism Thursday from the media channel, which accused the head of government of attacking press freedom.

Yoon’s office told MBC on Tuesday it would not allow its journalists to travel aboard the presidential plane during the president’s upcoming trip, citing the station’s “repeated distorted and biased coverage.”

The South Korean leader travels from Friday until next week to Cambodia and Indonesia to attend the summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the G-20 respectively.

The news of the boycott was not known until Thursday, the same day six journalists’ associations published a harsh statement against Yoon and his office, which they accused of carrying out “an unconstitutional subjugation against the press.”

The MBC network was responsible for releasing a video in which Yoon was caught using an open microphone using apparently foul language in September during his visit to the United States.

The recording is not very clear due to the background noise, but it was the subtitles prepared by MBC that sparked the controversy, since according to his interpretation Yoon is heard saying “if these bastards in congress don’t approve, poor Biden is going to look very bad.”

The presidential office then denied that these were the president’s words and said the network had deliberately sought to distort what happened and that it was damaging relations between South Korea and the US.

When asked about the decision taken against MBC, Yoon himself asked for understanding and said Thursday that “important interests are at stake” during his tour of Southeast Asia.

For its part, the channel issued a statement Thursday saying this action “clearly restricts the work of the press” and said its journalists will take alternative flights to travel to Phnom Penh and Bali, where the aforementioned summits will be held. EFE


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