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KBS producers urge documentary of Sewol tragedy to be aired

Feb. 21, 2024 - 17:01 By Yoon Min-sik
Members of local media, civic groups, and bereaved families of victims of Sewol ferry's 2014 sinking participate in a press conference held in front of the KBS headquarters in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

South Korean public broadcaster KBS' recent decision to pull a documentary about the 2014 sinking of the Sewol ferry has been sparking criticism from within the company's ranks.

Eight KBS producers issued a joint statement urging that the episode of the channel's weekly documentary series "Docu Insight" on the tragedy should be aired as scheduled. The episode was slated to feature the tragedy and the post-traumatic stress survivors still suffer from, but KBS decided not to air it because it "might affect the parliamentary elections in April."

"April 16, 2014 is a day that we all remember. It was the kind of incident after which things could never be the same," the producers said. "We urge trust for the production team of the Sewol documentary, and that (airing of the show) would go as planned, as it should."

KBS producers who joined the company between 2010 and 2023, not currently in managerial positions, plan to issue consecutive statements urging the company to air the Sewol documentary. The eight producers were the first in line as they were the ones who joined the company in 2014, the same year the tragedy occurred.

In the aftermath of KBS' decision not to air the documentary marking the 10th anniversary of the Sewol tragedy, the KBS division of the Korean Producers and Directors Association issued a statement last Friday saying it was "a severe infringement of the autonomy of the production team."

It was also pointed out that the documentary would have aired on April 18, eight days after the legislative elections wrapped up.

Members of local media, civic groups, and bereaved families of those who lost their lives in the Sewol tragedy held a joint press conference Monday and criticized KBS' decision.

The Sewol tragedy of April 16, 2014 is considered one of the worst maritime disasters in South Korean history. It left 304 dead or missing, with most of the victims being students on a school field trip.