November 30, 2010 12:20
The international press has been reporting the situation on the Korean Peninsula every day since North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday last week. Some 250 foreign correspondents report from Seoul on economic trends and public sentiment as well as the military confrontation in the West Sea and the diplomatic war developing in Northeast Asia.
Not all are accurate. CNN on Sunday reported that North Korea fired ground-to-air missiles, and on Saturday it claimed that police fired tear gas at demonstrators urging the government to respond with a retaliatory attack on North Korea.
Reuters on Tuesday last week reported rumors that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died. The responsibility for such inaccurate reports lies with the media, but there are calls for the government to set up proper information channels to ensure accurate reporting by the wire services.
Exaggerated or erroneous reports on the security situation could distort social and economic realities and trigger panic among investors. Already reports in the Japanese media have led to the cancellation of high-school excursions to South Korea and Japanese firms have urged staff to avoid trips to the South. One Japanese media outlet mentioned the question of the evacuation of over 30,000 Japanese residents here in an emergency.
The government has not briefed the foreign press on the security situation since the attack, unlike the extremely forthcoming briefings for the G20 summit. Good news of course is important, but in times of bad news accurate reporting is even more vital. To prevent North Korea from committing more war crimes, the world press must be helped to see the North's true face and the real picture of the military and diplomatic response from South Korea.
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