KOREA: Dismissed KBS chief faces summons

Prosecutors intend to issue an arrest warrant after Jung Yun-joo ignored five previous summons

The Korea Times
Monday, August 11, 2008

By Kang Hyun-kyung

Prosecutors plan to summon dismissed KBS President Jung Yun-joo this week for questioning over his alleged mismanagement and abuse of power.

Presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan told reporters that President Lee Myung-bak will appoint Jung's successor this month.

Jung said he would challenge his dismissal in court and fight what he called the Lee administration's regressive anti-democratic activities and arrogance.

Liberal parties criticized President Lee for abusing his power, but conservative parties, including the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) and minor Liberty Forward Party (LFP), backed the dismissal.

President Lee fired Jung Monday at the recommendation of the KBS board of directors.

The unprecedented dismissal drew immediate criticism from the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), which questioned if the President has the legal authority to remove the head of the public broadcaster before his term expires.

Following the expulsion, prosecutors said they will seek an arrest warrant for Jung, possibly this week, to investigate his alleged mismanagement. Jung has snubbed five previous summonses for questioning.

According to prosecutors, Jung is responsible for 200 billion won in losses at KBS and abuse of authority, charges which he denies.

Jung said the Board of Audit and Inspection hurriedly issued reports to quicken his dismissal, adding they contained factual errors and lacked legal justification.

DP Chairman Chung Sye-kyun called the dismissal a "grave act that broke the law."

"President Lee and the ruling party are attempting to turn the clock back," he said, adding the President has no legal authority to fire the head of the public network. ``We are going to take every possible legal measure, including a constitutional petition to frustrate the plot."

Chung said that in 2000, then President, Kim Dae-jung revised the KBS law to ensure independence and neutrality of the public broadcaster. A clause on allowing the President to dismiss the KBS president was removed, though he has the right of appointment.

"The President is entitled to appoint the head of the broadcasting company, but has no legal authority to fire him or her as the term is guaranteed by law" he said.

Spokesman Park Seong-eop of the progressive Democratic Labor Party said President Lee fired Jung, who was appointed under the Roh Moo-hyun administration, to control the media.

The Renewal of Korea Party joined the campaign protesting Jung's ouster.

LFP Chairman Lee Hoi-chang, however, said the President has the right to both appoint and dismiss the KBS president.