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ICP Asks If Ban Ki-moon To Run in S. Korea, "Right Now" Focused on UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 22 -- Will Ban Ki-moon try to become president of South Korea when he finishes as UN Secretary General in 2016? On October 22, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq. Video here.

  Triggering the question was Ban's inclusion in a poll about possible candidates, including Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and Hyundai "scion" Chung Mong-joon, and Haq's refusal to answer basic questions about the DR Congo, South Sudan and cholera.

  Haq said "it's not his decision to be included in a poll.  What the Secretary-General is doing and what he is concentrating on is his job as Secretary-General."

  But Inner City Press followed up with "a natural question, is he going to run or not?  Has he made a decision never to run?  Is the door open?  What is his position?"

 Haq replied that Ban's "position is that right now he is focused on his work as Secretary-General and that is where it will stand."

  This is akin to the coy answers given by actual candidates, in the US and elsewhere. It has now been suggested to Inner City Press it could further explain Ban's silence on attacks of press freedom in South Korea.

  The government in Seoul has indicted journliast Tatsuya Kato on possible charges of defaming current President Park Geun-hye, and has again blocked him from leaving South Korea.

  At issue is an article that Tatsuya Kato wrote citing Chosun Ilbo -- which also ran the recent poll including Ban -- that during the sinking of the Sewol ferry in April, President Park was not seen for seven hours and may have been trysting with a recently divorced former aide. 

  It is particularly troubling that while Tatsuya Kato has been targeted, Chosun Ilbo from which he quoted, and which ran the poll including Ban, is not being targeted. This disparate treatment of journalists, based on nationality or other factors, should not be tolerated.

  As a comparison, when Afghanistan recently imposed a similar travel ban on a New York Times reporter, not only the US State Department but also many others spoke out. But when Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric was directly asked about this comparison, and and Ban's silence on South Korea and Kato's case, he said that Ban is more active in Afghanistan than South Korea. Really?

  On August 31, Ban Ki-moon's comment on the coup in Lesotho did not mention that the military took over the television and radio stations there.

  The day's New York Times recounted how South Korean artist Hong Sung-dam had his painting depicting Park Geun-hye and his view of her role in the sinking of the Sewol ferry censored by authorities in Gwangju.

  Some including the new Free UN Coalition for Access, an anti-censorship alliance established at the UN during and counter to Ban Ki-moon's time in control, have noted a trend toward ignoring some attacks on the media. Some others have ignored and enabled it.

In the UN on October 22, the former chair of the UN's Commission of Inquiry on North Korea, Michael Kirby, held a non-televised session in what calls itself a journalists' organization, UNCA.

  This group, perhaps following the silence of Ban Ki-moon with whom they play soccer and to whom they provide photo ops, has said nothing about South Korea's indictment of and travel ban against Tatsuya Kato.

There is a pattern. Executive committee members of same group, now known as the UN's Censorship Alliance, tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, for its reporting on their murky screening of a Sri Lankan government film denying war crimes.

 One of those supporting the ouster has now tried to put even the first Haiti cholera case against the UN into the Censorship Alliance's non-televised clubhouse. Of course the UN, being sued, would want a presentation by the lawyers to not be on its worldwide Webcast. We and the new Free UN Coalition for Access will have more on all this.


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