By Kim Se-jeong
Rep. Sohn Hak-kyu, chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), accused the state-funded broadcaster KBS Friday of wiretapping the party’s closed-door meeting on TV subscription charges last week.
It’s the first time DP formally pinpointed the broadcaster as the culprit behind the alleged bugging.
Speaking at a meeting of the party’s decision-making Supreme Council, Sohn said KBS should reveal the truth about the wiretapping and take proper measures to hold people involved accountable.
“We believe the firm bugged the meeting to secure information about our party’s handling of the TV subscription policy. KBS should admit that it resorted to the deplorable method of gathering information.”
According to the liberal party, no hard evidence has yet been found to support KBS’s alleged involvement in the wiretapping.
However, many liberals believe KBS reporters covering the National Assembly bugged the meeting and shared the information with the ruling party.
The DP leader also criticized some reporters of the public broadcasting company for making threatening comments against DP members who opposed increasing the subscription rate.
The ruling Grand National Party (GNP) initially sought to put a bill concerning the subscription charge to a vote last month, but failed to do so amid strong opposition from the DP.
The National Assembly’s subcommittee on culture, tourism, broadcasting and communication, which is handling the bill, was scheduled to deliberate on June 28, but the meeting was cancelled due to the DP’s protest.
The GNP has lashed out at the DP, saying it must present evidence of the bugging first before police can investigate the allegation.
The scandal erupted June 23 when Rep. Han Sun-kyo, chairman of the parliamentary subcommittee, criticized DP’s opposition to increasing the TV subscription charge during a subcommittee meeting.
Han cited comments made by some DP members at the secret party meeting. At the time, Han said if the quotes he cited were incorrect, he would take full responsibility.
The liberals first argued that the GNP bugged the meeting where Chairman Sohn and other members of the parliamentary committee discussed party strategies on the GNP’s move to raise the subscription fee.
After the DP raised the allegations, Han quickly changed his position.
“They were not exact quotes. I spoke after reading a note I received from a DP member,” Han said.
Earlier this month, GNP lawmakers approved a bill raising the charge by 1,000 won to 3,500 won at a subcommittee meeting in the absence of DP lawmakers. That led the DP to boycott a June extraordinary parliamentary session for half a day on June 21.