Monday, January 9, 2012

South Korea's less than a free press

A logical outcome of South Korea's Lee Myung bak militarily and economically hardline policy towards North Korea is the fear of invasion of spies and body snatchers as well as unKorean elements in the media who wittingly aid and abet the North.
Like the Red Scare in the US, the public libraries and bookshops have become targets for vetting of books deemed 'subversive' or 'unKorean'. Now, the Lee regime is threatening with prison journalists and political cartoonists. In other words, it is engaging in a war against freedom of expression and dissenting standpoints.
A case in point is the government's intent in indicting, as the 'New York Times' put it, 'a man who parodied a North Korean propaganda poster' for aiding the enemy. What holds the regime's purpose up to ridicule is that, instead of brandishing a weapon, the artist substituted his own face and in his own hands, he's ostentatiously displaying a bottle of high end Scotch whisky.
The death of Kim Jong il has unhinged and upended Lee's revanchist 'Drang nach Norden' policy, which he has closely coordinated with the Obama administration, to 'rollback' the DPRK to the point of collapse. It hasn't happened and wont anytime soon, it seems.
So, the Lee regime has beefed up its campaign of finding a 'Red Korean' under any bed. Yet, something else is happening in South Korea: a growing and important segment of the public is aching for relaxation of tensions with North Korea, and this is event in the books and articles and in the playful banter found on television shows by younger performers who openly make fun of Lee's attack on freedom of expression. Not only that, as the 2012 presidential election looms larger on the horizon, there are signs that Lee's GNP will not capture the Blue House, and in the case they do, the new government, through popular pressure, will have to fall back on a revived, but modified, Sunshine Policy which Lee killed upon assuming the presidency in 2008.
Meanwhile, in 'democratic' South Korea, the press and freedom of expression are under attack.

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