NATIONAL

Thousands call for disbanding of Cheong Wa Dae press corps

By Kim So-hyun
  • Published : Dec 18, 2017 - 16:41
  • Updated : Dec 18, 2017 - 16:41

Over 44,000 South Koreans joined an online petition in just five days to disband the Blue House press corps in a bizarre twist after two members of the press corps were beaten by Chinese security guards during President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Beijing last week.

Chinese security guards beat and injured two South Korean photojournalists, who were members of the traveling press corps accompanying President Moon on his state visit to China, last Thursday. The journalists were trying to cover Moon’s attendance of a trade event, and the Chinese guards blocked them and assaulted them when they protested.

A petition posted on the website of the presidential office on Thursday called for minimizing the number of journalists stationed at Cheong Wa Dae, and scrapping the traveling press corps system.

(Yonhap)


“The behavior of the traveling press corps during the president’s visits to the US and China showed that they were incapable of living up to the values sought by Cheong Wa Dae,” the post reads.

The writer of the post accused the press corps of “causing an accident by ignoring instructions” at a critical time for diplomacy between South Korea and China, and demanded that the press corps no longer travel abroad with the president.

Close to 45,000 people had joined the online petition as of Monday morning. If a petition on the Cheong Wa Dae website gathers more than 200,000 signatures within 30 days, the government is supposed to announce its position on the matter.

The security guards that assaulted the journalists belonged to a firm set up by retired officers of China’s Ministry of Public Security, according to Rep. Lee Chan-yeol of the opposition People’s Party.

Citing documents he received from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, which hosted the trade event, Rep. Lee said KOTRA hired the security firm as they were told to by the Chinese state enterprise that ran the event venue. An organization affiliated with the Ministry of Public Security was in charge of security personnel, he said.

KOTRA had initially agreed to hire 50 security personnel and 30 safety inspection personnel from the firm, but ended up hiring 190 after signing an additional contract without knowing how much more they would have to pay, Lee said.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)