Seoul bars British journalist who parodied president
Tuesday 19 March 1996
Earlier this month Mr Hanley asked Gong Ro Myung, the Foreign Minister, to reconsider the case of Bruce Cheesman, who works for the Australian Financial Review. On 26 February, after nine years working in Seoul, his application for a new visa was rejected by the Justice Ministry.
Despite lobbying by diplomats, a government spokesman said the decision was "irrevocable" and Mr Cheesman would not be allowed to work again in South Korea.
No official reason has been given, but Sohn Woo Hyun, director-general of the foreign-media division of the Korean Overseas Information Service, said Mr Cheesman had violated immigration regulations by doing research while visiting the country as a tourist, and had "repeatedly gone beyond the bounds of what we consider sound journalistic practice. He repeatedly made false and defamatory allegations about the government of Korea."
Mr Cheesman insisted his visits as a tourist were made years ago and that what really rattled Seoul was his personal criticism of President Kim and members of his family.
Chief among the government's complaints is the case of the presidential Buddha. Last year Koreans were shaken by a series of disasters, including the collapse of a bridge and a store in Seoul in which more than 500 people were killed.
A Buddhist paper reported rumours that Mr Kim, a Christian, had ordered the removal of a Buddha statue from the garden of the presidential palace. This - the rumours went - had angered the heavens.
The President's men denied the Buddha had been moved. The Financial Review's jokey account, complete with cartoon, and citing inside sources, provoked fury. Mr Cheesman was hauled in for the latest in a series of official scoldings. Last week the Review received papers from lawyers for the Korean government initiating defamation proceedings.
But more decisive, Mr Cheesman believes, was the book he has been working on: an unofficial biography of Mr Kim focusing on the most controversial rumours which billow around the charismatic President. He admitted he has no documentary evidence for the most serious allegations.
But, based on interviews with former and serving politicians and aides and officials, the book will make embarrassing allegations about the funding of Mr Kim's 1992 election campaign and about the avowedly Christian President's private life.
The past few months have been a critical period for President Kim: as well as the trials of his predecessors Roh Tae Woo and Chun Doo Hwan, on charges of corruption, mutiny and treason, his New Korea Party faces parliamentary elections in a month's time which could rob him of control of the National Assembly.
Mr Sohn said: "This present action is not aimed at the foreign press, with whom we enjoy excellent working relations. The action we have taken is a legitimate recourse of a kind acceptable in any civilised country." Until this year, no correspondent had been expelled for professional reasons since the days of military dictatorship in the 1980s.
"The screws have been tightening in the last couple of months," said Mr Cheesman. "It is anti everything that the new Korea is supposed to stand for, a Third World mentality of worrying what the foreign press says about it."
Are beards attractive? Ryan Gosling says yes, but science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge and find out who's right
South Korea ferry: Four dead and almost 300 missing as mass rescue gets underway
Oscar Pistorius trial: Reeva Steenkamp told athlete she 'loved him' for first time in Valentine's Day card
Oscar Pistorius trial: Reeva Steenkamp standing with 'hand on the door handle' when she was shot dead
Lunar eclipse 2014: Images of the spectacular 'blood moon'
David Cameron: 'Jesus invented the Big Society – I'm just continuing God's work'
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for auction...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 3 Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Scientists warn we've hit 'peak beard': The more people grow facial hair, the less attractive it is
£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...
£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...
£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...
£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...