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South Korea Stops Publication of 2 Magazines : Ex-Official's Story of 1973 Kidnaping Blocked; Newsmen Protest Censorship

September 24, 1987|SAM JAMESON | Times Staff Writer

SEOUL, South Korea — In its most forceful act of censorship since promising to permit a free press in South Korea, the government of President Chun Doo Hwan has suppressed publication of two magazines, Shin Dong-A and the Monthly Chosun.

The newspaper Dong-A Ilbo said Wednesday that seven officers of the Agency for National Security Planning, formerly the Korean CIA, had seized a printer's shop Saturday and ordered its owners to stop production of the October issue of the newspaper's magazine, Shin Dong-A, because it contained an interview with Lee Hu Rak, a former director of the Korean CIA.

In it, Lee admitted for the first time that in 1973, under his direction, the Korean CIA abducted Kim Dae Jung in Tokyo and brought him by force to Seoul.

Also Interviewed Lee

Kim was the opposition candidate for president in 1971, and his abduction was regarded as an affront to Japanese sovereignty. The incident led to diplomatic friction between the two countries and was resolved only after Japan accepted a South Korean apology, albeit one that did not acknowledge any South Korean government involvement.

An official of the newspaper Chosun Ilbo, who asked not to be identified by name, confirmed that its monthly magazine had also interviewed the former Korean CIA chief and that officers of the Agency for National Security Planning had banned publication of its October edition. Chosun Ilbo did not report the ban in its news pages.

Kim Jong Shim, director of Dong-A Ilbo's magazine department, told The Times that news of the suppression had been withheld until Wednesday in the hope of "quietly reaching an agreement with the government." But no agreement was reached, he said.

Reporters of Dong-A Ilbo and its magazine both issued statements branding the agency's seizure of the printing plant "a severe challenge to the people desiring freedom of the press."

The newspaper reporters' statement said, "This also leads us to question whether the authorities really want democratization despite the continuing process of constitutional revision."

They pledged to "fight with all means" until the October issue containing the interview is allowed to appear.

Kim, the director of Dong-A Ilbo's magazine department, said that negotiations with the Agency for National Security Planning are continuing. He said the agency insists that publication of the interview would damage South Korea's relations with Japan.

Kim said the magazine's editors might agree to some deletions if the agency can convince them that relations with Japan would indeed otherwise be damaged.

Lee Jong Gak, a Shin Dong-A reporter who interviewed Lee Hu Rak for 11 hours over a period of three days, said the former CIA director did not say that either the late President Park Chung Hee or any member of the present government had anything to do with the Kim abduction.

He said the former official agreed "reluctantly" to give the interview, "his first in 14 years," after Kim Dae Jung had contributed an article to the September issue of the magazine. In it, Kim demanded that Lee Hu Rak give a public account of the abduction and threatened that otherwise "the next government will have to take up this issue."

"That's why he agreed to do the interview," reporter Lee said. But afterward, he said, the former CIA chief grew nervous and "asked us many times not to publish the story." Finally, he said, Lee Hu Rak informed the Agency for National Security Planning and its agents halted publication.

On June 29, after 18 days of street protests in cities throughout South Korea, Roh Tae Woo, the ruling party's candidate for president, promised to bring democratic rule to South Korea, including direct election of the president and freedom of speech and of the press. The draft of a new constitution, providing for freedom of the press, was submitted to the National Assembly last week.

Kim Jong Shim, the Shin Dong-A director, said it was the first time since June 29 that the government had prevented the magazine from publishing anything, though officials of the Ministry of Culture and Information had "cordially asked for our cooperation . . . on several occasions."

"We cooperated on some occasions, and did not cooperate on others," he said. He declined to elaborate, adding, "I can tell you the situation has been much more relaxed after June 29. Before, they simply called and ordered us to drop articles."

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Woo Sang Ho, 24, the president of the Yonsei University student body, was indicted on charges of "defaming the state" for giving interviews to three foreign publications in August. In one of them, Woo compared what he called "military fascism" in South Korea with the fascism of Nazi Germany.

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