Angry Pro-Park Geun-hye Mob Attack Journalists

After the ruling by the Constitutional Court of Korea to remove Park Geun-hye on Friday, Mar. 10, some pro-Park supporters lashed out at journalists. In a widely circulated video captured by SBS, one protester is seen striking a photojournalist from behind with a metal ladder.

In another case, a female photojournalist was beaten and robbed of her equipment in what appears to be a premeditated act of violence.

I was just passing by the pro-Park area, but I suddenly had my camera taken by some 10 men who ganged up to attack me for no reason. They grabbed me by the collar, pushed me to the ground and started beating me with something, and then started kicking. I was hit many times in the head. Now I’m in an ER.

Sung Donghoon of Focus News Agency suffered head injuries when an angry mob came at him. His photos from the moment of the attack are startling to say the least, and reveal the true color of the so-called patriotic conservatives in South Korea.

They just kept on beating me on and on. I wasn’t even reporting at the time. After one person starting beating me, the rest ran over like zombies. Punched my face several times, then knocked me down to the ground and stepped on my head repeatedly for some reason. They struggled to take my camera; I struggled to hold on to it.

I myself was attacked by men in military uniform for wearing the yellow Sewol ribbon. The men called me “commie,” grabbed me by the collar, and ripped off the ribbon. I was unharmed thanks to police intervention.

Pro-Park supporters blame the media for “biased” reporting and ultimately for Park Geun-hye’s ouster. These conservatives regard the mainstream media as purveyors of “fake news” and turn to unverified news sources that confirm their view of the world. It echoes what has been happening in the U.S. during and after the presidential election. What you see in South Korea is part of a worrisome global trend. 

As of Friday, there were 12 reported cases of violence against journalists. The Korea Press Photographers Association and the National Union of Mediaworkers strongly condemned these acts of violence as violating press freedom and urged the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency to provide better protection. Some of the aforementioned journalists are taking legal steps against the perpetrators.

Park Geun-hye’s silence on the impeachment ruling and her delayed departure from the presidential Blue House come across as a sign of refusal to accept the reality. It is likely to embolden the pro-Park group even further, encouraging them to commit more acts of violence against journalists and citizens.

Image: screen capture from SBS News

Jun Michael Park wrote this radar report.

Correction: The article’s headline originally included the word “lynch” and it was later changed to “attack.” The word was taken directly from the female photojournalist’s tweet. We recognize that she used the word in a Korean way and that it has completely different connotations in English.