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South Korean TV Networks Shun Politically Active Actress

Categories: East Asia, South Korea, Arts & Culture, Citizen Media, Elections, Freedom of Speech, Media & Journalism, Politics

One of South Korea's most outspoken actresses has claimed that two networks cancelled her TV appearances after a candidate she openly supported lost in the recent presidential elections. [1]

Kim Yeo-jin [2], an actress well-known for her progressive views and active political participation (@yohjini [3]disclosed [ko]  [4]via Twitter on January 3, 2013 that two TV networks who had booked her for their shows suddenly cancelled her TV appearances due to her political orientation. She regularly participates in protests and recently endorsed Moon Jae-in [5], the left-leaning candidate who lost the election.

각 방송사 윗분들, 문재인캠프에 연관있었던 사람들 출연금지 방침같은 건 좀 제대로 공유를 하시던가요. 작가나 피디는 섭외를 하고 하겠다고 대답하고 나서 다시 “죄송합니다 안된대요” […]

All the heads of the broadcasting stations. You better share with your people the internal rules regarding preventing Moon's campaign supporters from appearing on TV. A producer and writer of the show already booked me, but they contacted me later to say “I am sorry. This can't be done”

The tweet has since been re-tweeted 1500 times, igniting strong public criticisms toward broadcasting stations. To many observers, the incident once again confirms the open secret that internal guidelines at TV stations exist to screen out political minorities or critics of powerful politicians.

With some raising doubts that her denied TV appearance may have been just coincidental, Kim clarified [6] [ko]:

[…] 굳이 그렇게 꼭 집어 말씀하시던데요. 그 전에도 여러번 당했던일이지만 꼭 집어 그렇게 듣는 건 처음이었어요. “문재인캠프 연관된분이라 안괸다고 하네요. 죄송합니다.”라고 들었습니다.

They made it very clear. I’ve had that treatment several times before but it was the first time they specified the reason. I was told “since you are connected to Moon's campaign, you cannot (be on the show). I am sorry”.

Kim added bitterly [7] [ko] ‘I expected this to happen’.

Kim Yeo-jin at the ThinkCafe Conference [8]

Kim Yeo-jin at the ThinkCafe Conference, Image uploaded by Flickr user ThinkCafe (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Net users’ anger has followed. @shsh7600 [9] furiously commented [10] [ko] :

[…] 이것이 사실이라면 엄연한 인권탄압이며 일종의 정치보복이다. 특히 이런 야만적인 짓은 국민적 저항은 물론 훗날 반드시 그 댓가를 치러야 할것음을 알아야한다

If it is true, it is a clear violation of human rights and sort of a political retaliation. This kind of barbaric act should meet with public opposition and (those who executed this) will have to pay for the consequences.

A Daum user ID: MichaelPeach lamented [11] [ko]:

현재 우리나라 방송국이 정치적 편향성에 대해 자체적으로 ‘정화'할 수 있는 능력도, 자격도, 힘도 없다고 봅니다. 저는 김여진 씨의 방송취소 기사를 보고 어쩌면 5년 전, 현 정부가 들어서면 있었던 기피 연예인들의 방송 하차가 생각났습니다. 그때부터 우리나라는 심하게 분열되기 시작한 것이죠. 정부의 비판하는 배우, 바른 말하는 방송인 그들은 모두 좌파 빨갱이라는 오명을 얻게 되었고 방송을 떠나 있어야 했습니다.

The nation’s broadcasting stations don't have any capability, any rights, any power to heal themselves from political impartiality. When I heard news about Kim Yeo-jin’s cancelled TV appearances, it reminded me of some entertainers’ sudden drop-out of TV programs, right after the current administration started. We have started seeing a political division from that point on. Actors criticizing the government, TV broadcasters rightfully saying what they believe in– they were all forced to leave the TV after being vindicated as ‘pro-North Korean, leftist commies’

Opponents to this point of view, such as @pyein2 [12] argue [13] [ko] that the cancelled TV appearance may simply have been the result of Kim's failure to generate hit movies, and her attempts to build a reputation through political activities rather than acting. However, a Tistory blogger stressed [14] [ko] that it is still inexcusable:

자신이 애국보수라고 주장하는, 대한민국의 자칭 보수는 이 상황이 당연하단다. 왜? 나랑 다른편에 섯다고. 그래서 그냥 나와 다른편이기 때문에 밥줄이 끊기는건 당연하다고 이야기 한다. 왜 이게 당연한건가? […] 나는 우리집에서 내는 TV수신료 내고 싶지 않다.

People who claim themselves to be ‘patriotic conservatives’ or ‘the (true) conservative’ said this was meant to be. How so? Just because someone is taking different stances, just because that one is standing at the opposite side, can you justify a situation where their livelihoods are being threatened? How is it justifiable? […] I really dont want to pay any more TV transmission fees.

One local newspaper believes that [15] [ko] although there is no written blacklist on paper, TV executives may hint to concerned producers that it is better not to employ controversial actors or politically vocal broadcasters on their shows.