The Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club (SFCC) noted that an internal letter sent by its president to member has been obtained and reported by the Korean press, and would like to set the record straight.
SFCC president HORIYAMA Akiko sent a letter to the members, explaining that Cheong Wa Dae and the Prime Minister’s Office have not sufficiently reflected the SFCC’s opinion in the course of holding a new year press conference and that the SFCC would continuously discuss the matter with government.
In this letter, she said Cheong Wa Dae has selected 5 foreign media reporters to attend President Moon Jae-In’s press conference, held on January 18, in person, and 20 foreign media journalists to attend via a video link, and that it was Cheong Wa Dae that had decided which media outlet would sit in which “seat”. SFCC noted that the term “seat” has been interpreted in various ways in the Korean press, and would like to clarify that the term “seat” in her letter did not refer to a physical seat in a narrow sense, but was used to mean the ways in which selected foreign media journalists participated in the press conference.
While it is true that Cheong Wa Dae did not hold sufficient prior consultations with the SFCC in the course of selecting foreign media outlets, under the pandemic situation. with its own consideration as to continents and languages, the SFCC finds it regrettable that the media outlets that attended the press conference were portrayed as “government-friendly reporters.”
When a government-held event can accommodate only a limited number of journalists due to space constraints or COVID-19 related measures, the SFCC has a policy of making a request to allow the SFCC to form a pool. Some media reports suggested that foreign journalists did not have a chance to organize questions in advance in the absence of a pool, with a further claim that some sensitive questions were not asked during the press conference, as a result. The SFCC would like to clarify that it is not true.
Neither the SFCC board nor the pool system plays a role of arranging and coordinating questions to be asked by pool reporters at the site with the government in advance.
Lastly, SFCC president HORIYAMA Akiko has not received any request from any media organization for an interview or to confirm facts, regarding the matter mentioned above.
Below is the letter that the president sent to the members on January 25, 2021.
The Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club has a POOL System in each category of PEN, TV and STILL, but there have been situations where this is not fully reflected in the press conferences hosted by the government. So I would like to explain the details because I have also had inquiries from members.
On January 18, there are 5 foreign media reporters who attend the President Moon Jae-in’s New Year’s Press Conference, and 20 foreign media reporters were able to ask questions directly online. And other foreign media reporters could ask questions via text. The Office to the President for Foreign Press has decided everything related to which media can be attended, and there was no discussion on the SFCC board in advance.
The SFCC board can understand the limitation of the number of people considering the special circumstances caused by COVID-19, but complained that they decided to participate without considering SFCC’s PEN POOL System. Also, there was no foreign media POOL for TV and STILL, so the SFCC board asked for additional POOL slots. Although the office to the President for Foreign Press did not allow the participants to be determined by reflecting the SFCC PEN POOL System, but TV and STILL POOL slots were additionally reflected.
And the Policy Forum with Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun scheduled on January 27th was limited to 10 foreign media reporters, and other reporters who are not able to attend will be joined online. The SFCC Board was not involved again in the decision. The SFCC Board has expressed strong concern over the situation in which the government has continuously decided which media to attend arbitrarily. So Korean Culture and Information Service has promised to discuss with the SFCC in advance, such as how to organize the policy forum.
As the SFCC President, I am deeply concerned that the SFCC’s opinion was not reflected on the recent two press conference operations. On the other hand, it is a good sign that KOCIS was promised to discuss with the SFCC in advance at upcoming press conference and TV & STILL POOL Slots were additionally provided at New Year’s Press Conference by ROK President. We have to consider about various problems that will occur in the future. The SFCC Board will discuss with the government to ensure an equitable SFCC system is applied. Thank you for your understanding.
Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club (SFCC)