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South Korea's Blue House accuses domestic press of being ‘traitorous’

Chosun Ilbo and Korea JoongAng Daily were said to have changed headlines and content in Japanese versions of papers

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Blue House spokesperson Ko Minjung (高旼廷) accused two of the country’s biggest domestic newspapers on Wednesday (July 17) of inciting anti-Korean sentiment in Japan, South Korean weekly Media Today (미디어오늘) reports.

The presidential office of the South Korean said the conservative newspapers, Chosun Ilbo (朝鮮日報) and Korea JoongAng Daily (中央日報), were changing headlines or content and posting anti-Korean editorials in the Japanese versions of their papers.

Ko said original titles of Korean reports were changed and parts of content were erased, especially those related to Japan’s recent economic sanctions against South Korea. The Secretary of Civil Affairs Office of the President Cho Kuk (曹國) said this was “anti-Korean” (嫌韓) and “traitorous” (賣國的) in a Facebook post.

Ko detailed several examples of the changes at a media briefing on Wednesday. A Chosun Ilbo's report titled, “Japanese investment in South Korea drops 40 percent in a year (일본의 한국 투자 1년새 –40%, '요즘 한국 기업과 접촉도 꺼려')” was changed into, “How dare South Korea expect Japanese investment? (韓国はどの面下げて日本からの投資を期待してるの?)” in the Japanese version of the article on July 4.

Another report titled, “We are good and they are the evil? Moralizing diplomatic problems will not solve anything (나는 善 상대는 惡? 외교를 도덕화하면 아무 것도 해결 못해)” was changed into, “Morality and dichotomy of good and evil are not solving anything (道徳性や善悪の二分法では何も解決できない)” on July 5. “Blue House that seems to have returned to a century ago (국채보상, 동학운동 1세기 전으로 돌아간 듯한 청와대)” was changed to “Blue House that incites anti-Japanese sentiments without suggesting any solution (解決策を提示せず国民の反日感情に火をつける韓国大統領府)” on July 15.

Ko also pointed out that many of the trending reports on Yahoo Japan’s international news site were editorial columns from the two newspapers, which were once again headlined with anti-Korean sentiments, such as, Korea JoongAng Daily's “South Korea knows too little about Japan (韓国は日本をあまりにも知らなすぎる)” or “Indiscriminately anti-Japanese obscurantism (手当たり次第反日という愚民化政策).”

Ko argued that many Japanese learn about South Korean public opinion through the Japanese versions of South Korean newspapers. “While South Korea is facing a difficult situation [due to Japanese sanctions], we have to question if posting these kinds of headlines and spreading these kinds of opinions really reflect the true voice of South Korea’s people? Is it really in the interest of our people?”

Chosun Ilbo responded immediately by saying, “We have nothing to answer,” but all of the Japanese version articles mentioned by the Blue House have already been removed. JoongAng Media Group, which owns Korea JoongAng Daily, strongly denied the accusation of bias and commented “We have not distorted facts in our reports and we do not see our editorial opinions as a problem,” without removing any of its accused articles.

Japanese media Sankei Shimbun (產經新聞) commented that using provocative headlines as clickbait has been common practice for media in both South Korea and Japan. It also called on media from both sides to refrain from using words that might stir up anti-Korean or anti-Japan sentiment.