SEOUL – The South Korean government has not issued a press pass for a Japanese newspaper journalist who has replaced a colleague accused of defaming South Korea’s president, it was learned Wednesday.
Sankei Shimbun journalist Kinya Fujimoto applied for a press pass, which is required when reporting at South Korean government institutions, in September after arriving in Seoul for his assignment as the paper’s local bureau chief.
But the rest of the procedures have been apparently left pending for months, sources said. Despite inquiries by the Sankei, it was told that the matter is being scrutinized by higher authorities.
One report in the South Korean media speculated it is “retaliation” for the defamation case centered on Fujimoto’s predecessor, Tatsuya Kato.
Kato posted online Aug. 3 about President Park Geun-hye’s whereabouts on the day the ferry Sewol sank, killing more than 300 people, most of them teenagers on a school trip. The article also mentioned rumors about Park’s relationship with an unidentified man.
Meanwhile, the South Korean media report also quoted an official as saying the press pass is not an essential tool for working as a journalist in the country.