JAK Seeks Support from Int'l Media Community
for Safety of Journalists in Conflict-Ridden Areas
By Kang Seok-Jae
The Journalists Association of Korea (JAK) has strongly called for support from the international media community in pressuring Iraq and other regions with ongoing conflict to guarantee journalists' safe coverage. "The lives of journalists covering countries with ongoing conflicts, such as Iraq, to satisfy the people's right to know, should be duly respected, and journalists should not fall victim to any political ideology and any act of terrorism," said Lee Sang-ki, president of the JAK, on June 28, 2004. Lee also stressed the need for stepped-up solidarity and alliance among international media organizations, including the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and journalists to ensure the safety of journalists while covering conflict-ridden areas. "Special heed should be paid to all journalists in Iraq and other areas with conflict." In the wake of the killing of Korean hostage Kim Sun-il in Iraq last week, a dozen of Korean journalists were reportedly unable to cover the area properly and tried to return home at the recommendation of their Korean government, but they could not get tickets, according to news reports.On June 22, the JAK sent an URGENT e-mail to the IFJ and other major international media organizations, calling for an immediate and safe release of Kim Sun-il, a South Korean civilian abducted by Iraqi militants. In video footage that was aired by the Qatar-based pan-Arab satellite television station, Al-Jazeera, the Iraqi insurgents threatened to behead Kim unless the Korean government drops its additional troop deployment plan within 24 hours. Kim was killed hours after the 24-hour deadline of 2 a.m. June 22 passed. The JAK also reaffirmed its basic position that such inhumane acts of abduction and beheading of innocent civilians couldn't be justified for any reasons, while urging international media organizations and journalists around the world to pay special attention to journalists' safety in areas with ongoing conflict.
|Iraqi residents are cleaning the streets of Al Hillah in central Iraq after a car bomb explosion. Courtesy AP|
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Mr. Kang Seok-Jae serves as a senior writer for The Seoul Times. He teaches as a professor at his alma mater, the HUFS Graduate School of Interpretation & Translation. Mr. Kang also serves as chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Journalists Association of Korea.