KBS reporters go on strike

May 19, 2014
 A sedan carrying KBS President Gil Hwang-young is surrounded by unionists and security guards at the state-run broadcaster’s headquarters in Yeouido, Monday. Union members blocked Gil, who they claim is a government stooge, from going to the office, and demanded his resignation. The vehicle’s windshield was cracked during the physical confrontation between KBS security guards and union members. (Yonhap)

A sedan carrying KBS President Gil Hwang-young is surrounded by unionists and security guards at the state-run broadcaster’s headquarters in Yeouido, Monday. Union members blocked Gil, who they claim is a government stooge, from going to the office, and demanded his resignation. The vehicle’s windshield was cracked during the physical confrontation between KBS security guards and union members. (Yonhap)

By Lee Hyo-sik

Hundreds of KBS reporters boycotted news reporting Monday, demanding the resignation of company CEO Gil Hwan-young. They said they will continue the boycott as long as Gil remains in the post.

The CEO is being accused of allegedly exerting undue influence in the newsroom of the state-run broadcaster to produce programs favorable to President Park Geun-hye and appoint employees with pro-government views to important posts.

The reporters started the boycott at 1 p.m. KST , after holding a vote on whether to stop reporting for the broadcaster. About 91 percent of reporters belonging to the KBS Reporters’ Association voted in favor of the walkout.

KBS reporters and editors have been threatening to strike over the past week unless the CEO, who was appointed in 2012 by ex-President Lee Myung-bak and is now serving a three-year term, resigns.

On Monday, Gil had planned to meet with KBS employees at 10 a.m. and hold a press conference at 3 p.m. to reject allegations that he has influenced the state-run broadcaster’s selection of news stories and personnel appointments.

But the CEO could not go to work in the morning as members of the KBS labor union barricaded the front gate of the company headquarters building in Yeouido. Gil attempted to force his way into the building at 9:15 a.m. , but had to leave the scene due to strong protest from union members.

The president has been under pressure to step down since May 9 when former newsroom chief Kim Si-gon revealed that he tried to control the broadcaster’s news coverage.

Kim alleged that Gil directed him not to report former Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Yoon Chang-jung’s sexual harassment scandal as top news. Kim even claimed that Gil follows only one person, President Park.

Most KBS workers are said to hold an unfavorable view of Gil. According to the KBS union, 97.9 percent of surveyed employees said he should step down.

Several members of KBS’s board of directors Monday proposed a vote of no confidence on Gil and will hold an emergency meeting as soon as possible to deal with the matter. The board plans to hold a meeting on Wednesday to decide his fate.

Last Friday, a group of KBS editors offered to resign, demanding Gil’s resignation and a day later, about 50 senior reporters also vowed to quit.

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