The incident where 700 worshippers of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) broke into the office building of this newspaper company in Chungjeong-ro the day before yesterday and damaged the property is a serious threat to the freedom of press and the right of the nation to know. It is very difficult to understand that the eight hours of violence and the production disturbance by the worshippers of FFWPU, who were discontent with the report in the September issue of Shindonga, a monthly publication of this company, with the title “Grand Dissection of FFWP Kingdom,” was a conduct by the worshippers of a religion which stress peace in the world.
The FFWPU worshippers destroyed the computers and office fixtures of the Shindonga journalists and stole the coverage documents of journalist Cho Seong-sik, the one who wrote the report concerned. They threatened to “throw sand on the rotary press of Dong-A Ilbo” and even sent more than 200 text messages to Cho’s cell phone, saying, “We’ll kill you.” Also, a photojournalist of this newspaper company Gang Byeong-gi and a CBS reporter Kim Jae-pyeong were attacked with violence and threats by the worshippers.
“The coverage by Shindonga was a libel against the FFWPU based on the description by some of the apostates,” FFWPU stated. If they were to make such statements, they could raise a formal objection by means of press arbitration or a lawsuit. Leaving aside these measures and rushing into the office building of the press to exercise violence is neither what the citizens of a democratic society are allowed to do nor the propriety of the worshippers. In addition, didn’t Shindonga guarantee the objection right of Hwang Seong-jo, the president of the FFWPU, by including an 8-page interview with him?
It is almost impossible to understand that the FFWPU, which manages a number of press organizations both at home and abroad, should attempt to oppress a press report by resorting to violence. They even compelled us to collect all the copies of the September version of Shindonga and to dismiss the journalist in charge and the head editor. A religious organization is not supposed to make such inappropriate requests to press institutions, be it a subsidiary.
The FFWPU should clarify whether this break-in is a conduct that complies with its doctrine of world peace or a deviation by some of the worshippers. The FFWPU is carrying out dynamic activities and spreading its domain in the sectors of religion, business, press, university, culture, and sports. The FFWPU will have to think about how this incident will be reflected in recognition of the nation and the people around the world on religion and its related businesses.
We intend to call the worshippers who exercised organized violence and disturbed the production of Shindonga and those who ordered such conducts to strict legal account. We will continue to make efforts to fulfill the right of the nation to know and the mission of press reporting without being shaken by any kind of threats from external powers.