The Sewol advertisement that appeared in the New York Times recently was a disgrace to South Korea and its people.
The full-page ad had a black and white picture of the Sewol after it had sunk into the sea, reminding people once again of a tragedy too horrible even to watch.
At the top of the ad, it said the Sewol ferry sank in South Korea at 8:48 a.m. on April 16, 2014. Below it, it said that more than 300 people were trapped inside, but no one was rescued.
In the middle of the ad, there was a message written in a large capitalized font, “Bring the truth to light,” with a subtitle, “Why are Koreans outraged by President Park Geun-hye?”
The ad claimed that the Korean government rejected help offered by the U.S. Navy, and that the government gave the sole rights to the rescue project to a private company of which it is a major shareholder.
Furthermore, it claimed that President Park controlled the press and prevented major news media from reporting the truth, that the mainstream media served as a de facto mouthpiece of the Park administration, that President Park was trying to bring Korea back to its old days of dictatorship, and that Koreans were outraged by the regression of democracy in the country.
Right below these claims, it demanded in a bigger red font “an immediate end to the South Korean government’s control of the media, censorship of the truth, manipulation of public opinion, and suppression of the public’s freedom of speech.”
It is not cheap to place a full-page advertisement in the New York Times. From what I hear, the people behind the ad spent about $50,000 for the one-time ad placement. I wish they used the money for the bereaved families of the Sewol tragedy instead. It is not known who placed the ad.
Along with the website address (www.thetruthof sewolferry.com/truth), the ad only said the ad was “globally crowdfunded by citizens concerned about Korean democracy and free speech in Korea.”
It is regrettable that they had to spend such an enormous amount of money to insult President Park, while the entire nation was buried in grief. I cannot understand at all why they tried to blemish the president and government of Korea by bringing up this horrible tragedy already well-known throughout the world.
It is certain that they are Koreans. What could they gain from spitting on their own faces and so many Korean-Americans’ in the middle of New York? I am embarrassed for them.
I showed this ad to my American friends and asked their opinions. All of them said that a small extremist minority would show that kind of behavior all the time and that the best way to deal with them was to ignore them.
Their conclusion was that no American would believe the claim in the ad that the press was being controlled and democracy was regressing under President Park at a time like this when the two countries are on the best terms and President Park’s popularity was soaring skyward in the U.S. The advertisers only wasted so much money in vain.
We have to find out the true identity of the advertisers. Only then can we find out the source of their money, what kind of organization they are, and whether or not they are leftists, and it will allow us to deal with them accordingly. Some say that the advertiser was MissyUSA.
MissyUSA is a community site that targets Korean women in the U.S., and there is a rumor that organizations opposing the current government are using the site.
I suggest three measures to prevent the recurrence of an unfortunate event like this.
First, it is desirable for the Korean government to send an official complaint to the New York Times. Even though the ad space was sold to the advertisers, I think it was an insult to the Korean government for the newspaper to publish an ad slandering the president of a country. It is worthwhile to make a strong demand of the newspaper to reveal the identities of the advertisers.
Second, the Korean government should sue the advertisers in the New York district court for false advertising. This will force the advertisers to reveal themselves and resolve the suspicion behind their identity.
Third, the Korean government should also sue the advertisers in the Korean court. There should be an opportunity to have the truth revealed, and the advertisers should be tracked down for the crime of defamation of the country and be judged by law.
To anyone, it is rubbish to criticize the Korean government for restricting the freedom of the press and manipulating public opinion. This case should be tied up tightly without any loose ends so that an embarrassing event like this may not happen again.
Looking back, we never follow through with punishing those who were responsible for things like this. And that’s why our society is in disorder.
Our country should become one governed by law, where anyone who commits a crime should certainly pay the price, and thus everyone should be equal before the law.