Mal (periodical)

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Date: 1986

Region: Asia

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Print Journalism


Artist: Council for Democratic Press Movement

Confronting Bodies: Ministry of Culture

Dates of Action: September, 1986

Location: Republic of Korea (South Korea)

Description of Artwork: "... In December 1984, a group of journalists who had been dismissed during the government's press purges in 1974 and 1980 formed the Council for Democratic Press Movement (CDPM). At the end of (the summer of 1987), CDPM's objectives included the repeal of the Basic Press Act, the end of government interference with the media, the promotion of the independence of the Korean Broadcasting system, and the unconditional reinstatement of journalists who had been expelled since 1975. CDPM publishes Mal (Words), an unregistered, bimonthly periodical... "

The Incident: "... Until the summer of 1987, Mal was the target of constant government harassment, including police raids of the CDPM offices, confiscation of the organizations files, and the frequent detention of its editors on charges of "spreading false rumors." As a result, CDPM was forced to distribute the periodical covertly. "On September 6, 1986 a special 63-page edition of Mal was devoted entirely to an expose of the government's daily issuance of 'guidelines" to the nations newspapers. As described in Mal, the"information guidelines" (Hongbo Chojong Jichim) are instructions to the press, which are sent every day to each newspaper publisher by the Department of Public Information Control (DPIC) of the Ministry of Culture and Information. Using such terms as 'possible,' 'impossible,' and 'absolutely impossible,' the DPIC decides and regulates all details including the form, content, and admissibility of reports about particular incidents, situations and circumstances. Newspapers adhering loyally to the guidelines will eliminate the article without hesitation if it is classified as 'absolutely impossible,' will give up the article with a little awkwardness if it is 'impossible,' and will carry the article with haste and relief if it is 'possible,' irrespective of the importance and value of the news item. As well as such detailed instructions, and such obedience, there is further press control by describing fact as fiction, or vice versa, and by dressing up small events as big ones or vice versa."

Results of Incident: "... Thousands of copies of that edition of Mal were confiscated and several journalists associated with the magazine were arrested. One was reportedly tortured. Three of the journalists were convicted, but all were released after the trial. It is unclear at the present whether the practice of calling editors with advice has continued and, if so, to what extent... "

Source: Asia Watch, "Freedom of Expression in the Republic of Korea," August, 1988, Pg. 48-51, vii.