Cho-Joong-Dong that exaggerated, even distorting the fact, attack on a police chief … why?

Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of an article appeared in the progressive online media <Voice of People (VOP)> on November 30, 2011, covering the reporting behavior of mainstream conservative media about the case where a police chief was allegedly attacked by anti-KORUS FTA protesters on November 26, 2011. Through the cooperative efforts of progressive media and netizens, the claim immediately turned out to be fraudulent and no one was actually charged for the attack. But the initial reports of those conservative media all depicted the case as a mob attack by protesters and people suspect that might have been motivated not by news report but by something else. The whole evolvement is actually quite symbolic in terms of what’s going on in Korean mainstream media now. Rights regarding this post stay with the author of original article or with <VOP> and this post will be scrapped immediately with their request accordingly. Original article of this post can be found in the link at the bottom.

Cho-Joong-Dong that exaggerated, even distorting the fact, attack on a police chief … why?

Reporter Jeong Hye-gyoo 정혜규

종로서장 집회 진입 장면

ⓒ Photo of Chosun Ilbo front page, Kim Cheol-soo <VOP> 민중의소리 김철수

The situation where Jongro Police Chief Park Geon-chan caused a commotion by dashing through the heart of KORUS FTA denunciation rally on November 26. On the front page of Chosun Ilbo November 28th edition displayed a picture in which a man in brown jumper wrapped the face of police chief Park but reported instead ‘a man hit police chief Park in his head’, but the man turned out to be a detective in Jongro Police station. According to a series of pictures <VOP> took continuously on the scene at that time, the man’s hand was wrapping police chief Park’s face all the time protecting him. It was a police detective doing his job but conservative media reported it in a moment as a situation where a police chief was attacked by a mob.

Controversy about Jongro Police Chief attack, conservative media distorting on-site photos

Regarding the attack case of Jongro Police Chief Park Geon-chan, centered around media civil organizations, people argue conservative media are distorting the facts of on-site photos to exaggerate the violence of rally participants.

On 26th last month, Jongro Police Chief Park Geon-chan caused clashes against rally participants while walking directly through the participants in full uniform, claiming to meet opposition party representatives like Jeong Dong-young, Lee Jeong-hee at the KORUS FTA denunciation candlelight rally, and getting his insignia taken away. Then, police chief Park, even though the rally was not even finished yet, held a press conference with Jongro Police Station reporters and claimed that he was attacked.

Seoul Police Agency (SPA) immediately released several photos and video footages to media under the title ‘Photos and video footages of attack on Seoul Jongro Police Chief’.

Captured in those photos were scenes where one man seemed to press down or even hit the head of Jongro Police Chief Park Geon-chan. SPA emphasized these parts by marking them in red circles.

Some conservative media reported the photos SPA had released as attack photos by rally participants on 28th last month. Other conservative media who borrowed pictures from other media also utilized them to emphasize the violence of rally participants by putting the pictures under headlines like ‘Illegalities mob attacked legality’ with the face of the man SPA had emphasized through red circle marks blurred.

Front line police man who protected police chief turned into a violent rallier

But the man on those photos was not a rallier but a Jongro Police homicide detective who tried to protect his own police chief. This man tried best to do his job to protect the head of police chief Park all the time but the image rather turned into an image of a violent rallier.

Even Jongro Police officials were also puzzled by media reports. One police official said “the man on those photos is a member of Jongro Police homicide. It’s a question how come those photos were described as attack photos.”

But, most conservative media reported the photos police had released as attack photos by ralliers without confirming the facts of those photos. By skipping the fact confirmation, the most basic ethics of media, media reports turned into falsifications.

Then, how come this kind of thing happened?

To this, Kim Yoo-jin, the general manager of Citizen’s Coalition for Democratic Media (CCDM), pointed out “they reported not based on facts but based on the purpose of the report and utilized pictures for that purpose.” She said “the purpose of those reports was ‘to emphasize the violence of rally participants’. They chose pictures that fitted to that purpose; facts of those pictures did not matter.”

In fact, on November 28th reports, conservative media such as Chosun Ilbo, Joongang Ilbo, Dong-A Ilbo (aka Cho-Joong-Dong), not analyzing the whole evolvement of attack incident in a balanced way, simply emphasized the violence of rally participants and the flaccidness of public authority.

<Illegalities mob attacked legality>(Chosun, front page)
<In the middle of Korea, police chief under mob violence>(Chosun, front page, picture report)
<Country where police chief got attacked, who can lead a country like this?>(Chosun, editorial)
<Indiscriminate violence to opposing opinions … a chilling happening at assembly>(Chosun, page 3)

<Country where police chief got attacked>(Joongang, front page)
<Reconstruction of attack incident against Jongro Police Chief Park Geon-chan on 26th>(Joongang, front page, Video image capture and diagram)
<National essence is collapsing>(Joongang, Column, ‘Kim Jin’s Sisi Gakgak’)
<Lee Kang-deok “Shy off water-cannons led to direct clash … this thing happened”>(Joongang, page 3)

<Country where police chief is attacked by illegal protesters>(Dong-a, front page)
<Stripped off the cap and glasses>(Dong-a, front page, picture report)
<They followed escaping attacked police chief to a police box, cursed “traitor”>(Dong-a, page 3)
<Park Geon-chan Jongro Police Chief “It’s preposterous that I provoked protesters intentionally”>(Dong-a, page 3)

Conservative media including Cho-Joong-Dong never covered suspicions like police chief who had been in plain clothes suddenly changed to full uniforms and walked directly into the rallying people or he, without any prearrangement with opposition party representatives, tried to instigate violence by walking around the middle of ralliers angered by police authority who had utilized water cannons to citizens.

Why did conservative media distort facts?

Because of this, media civil organizations raise a suspicion that, as public opinion moved away more from government since Grand National Party’s shoddy passage of KORUS FTA ratification consent bill, conservative media including Cho-Joong-Dong distorted facts to revert it. Since they were so immersed in changing public opinion, they even had to distort facts.

Regarding the controversy of Jongro Police Chief attack, Lee Kang-sil, the head of Korea Alliance of Progressive Movements, claimed “it was a trickery that tried to color candlelight rally participants as violent mobs and to put those candlelights off through public opinion” and continued “there are so many eyes and cameras on site, which renders all trickeries futile now. The only thing that can put people’s candlelights off is the denunciation of KORUS FTA.”

CCDM general manager Kim Yoo-jin said “Cho-Joong-Dong still repeat their reporting behavior of purposefully zigsawing pieces together. They have shunned away from extreme rightists’ violence against the opposition figures so far but they are so agitated by a controversial attack case against police chief Park and incite tougher responses. It will only make the circumstance worse.”

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