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(LEAD) Moon declares support for int'l press freedom initiative

Politics 16:33 September 18, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks on fake news in first 7 paras, minor edits throughout; ADDS photo, byline)
By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in formally expressed support Wednesday for a major press freedom initiative by Reporters Without Borders and asked the group to help fight against "fake news."

Moon greeted Christophe Deloire, secretary general of the Paris-based international non-governmental organization, also known as Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), at his office Cheong Wa Dae.

Joining their half-hour meeting were Cedric Alviani, director of the RSF's East Asia bureau in Taipei, and Jung Kyu-sung, head of the Journalists' Association of Korea.

Thanks to RSF's activities, Moon said, efforts to defend press freedom against political power have made a lot of progress.

He added, however, that freedom of speech is confronted with other problems, including fake news.

"Hurting a fair press, I think, are the problems of media capital and advertising capital, news-breaking competition and the confrontation of extreme positions, as well as hatred and disgust among people with different thoughts and fake news or disinformation, which spreads so fast," Moon said at the outset of the meeting, which was open to pool reporters.

He asked RSF to keep playing a role in promoting a fair press, which he described as a "foundation and basis of democracy."

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) meets with Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Sept. 18, 2019. (Yonhap)

It was the first time that a South Korean president has held an official meeting with an RSF delegation.

The event came at the request of RSF as the group seeks to broaden support for the International Declaration on Information and Democracy it issued last year.

Moon told RSF representatives that he agrees with the purpose of the initiative and supports it, Cheong Wa Dae said in a press release later.

He added South Korea will participate in the "partnership for information and democracy" to implement the declaration.

"When truth-based thoughts and information are freely moved, freedom of speech can be truly realized and a fair press, based on facts, will increase trust among members of a society," Moon was quoted as saying.

The RSF chief thanked Moon for throwing his weight behind the project and said he expected South Korea to solidify its stature as a role model in Asia in terms of democracy and press freedom

Alviani noted South Korea's rise in the ranking of the RSF's World Press Freedom Index since the launch of the liberal Moon administration in 2017. South Korea climbed to 43rd in 2018 from 63rd in 2017. It ranked 41st this year.

RSF said earlier in a statement, "The election of Moon Jae-in, a human rights activist and former political prisoner, as president has been a breath of fresh air after a bad decade in which South Korea fell more than 30 places in RSF's World Press Freedom Index."

The logo of Reporters Without Borders in an image provided by the group (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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