By Kim Rahn
Embattled Korean Broadcasting System President Jung Yun-joo refused to resign Wednesday, blasting the Lee administration for reducing the public network to a government promotion agency by attempting to handpick the KBS chief.
Jung spoke in a news conference at KBS headquarters in Seoul a day after the Board of Audit and Inspection recommended his dismissal to the KBS board of directors for mismanagement and abuse of authority.
The Lee administration has pressured Jung to resign, a move which civic groups and opposition parties say is a government attempt to rein in the media.
"Aug. 5 is the day that the Board of Audit and Inspection was disgraced", Jung said. "The Lee government refused to guarantee the legal term of the KBS president, which is a minimum condition to respect the freedom of the press".
Jung also criticized the administration for seeking to unseat him for its own political purpose, saying, "It is degrading KBS into becoming a state-run promotion agency".
He said he kept his post despite groundless slander and criticism to safeguard the independence of the network, reiterating his refusal to step down.
"KBS independence and freedom of the press are being seriously challenged. History is apparently going backwards. We are witnessing that the democracy and democratic process Korea has achieved through a long struggle are being severely compromised", Jung said.
He also rejected the government watchdog's inspection findings that his mismanagement cost KBS 150 billion won in losses since 2003 and that he abused his power in personnel management.
Calling the results unacceptable, he blasted the inspection as politically motivated. "The audit process was unusually fast as if a scenario to unseat me was set up; the auditor unusually demanded that I be directly questioned; and it falsely calculated the company's balance to emphasize my so-called mismanagement", Jung said.
"The inspection agency not only probed my `corruption' allegations but also those of other executives, even demanding the social security numbers of all 5,300 KBS employees. But it found no corruption, ironically confirming KBS transparency".
Jung also urged the KBS board of directors not to damage the network's independence, indirectly warning of consequences if they recommended his dismissal to President Lee In
a meeting Friday.
Other executives said KBS would file a lawsuit Thursday to nullify the dismissal recommendation.