A three-day virtual World Journalists Conference (WJC) being organised by the Journalists Association of Korea (JAK) began on Monday.
It is aimed at bringing together journalists from Asia, Middle East, Africa, Europe and America to discuss various issues including fake news and future of journalism, global response to COVID-19 as well as the 70th anniversary of the Korean War and peace in the Korean Peninsula.
Since its inception 13 years ago, this is the first time the conference was being held online due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease which continues to wreak havoc across the globe.
The Prime Minister of (PM) South Korea, Mr Chung Sye-Kyun urged the media to uphold basic journalistic ethics of truth, objectivity and accuracy.
He said the world had been besieged on two fronts; the devastation of economies and the spread of fake news.
According to the PM, fake news poses a real threat to human lives and even worse in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19.
He said he was concerned about a prominent US journal publication that misinformation about the disease had caused 800 deaths and 5,800 hospitalisations.
Mr Sye-Kyun told the journalists that the Korean Government adopted a tailored measured approach to combat fake news and that the policy ensures freedom of speech was not stifled.
Touching on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, the PM stated that not much progress had been achieved since the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom declaration.
Nevertheless, Mr Sye-Kyun said he was upbeat that permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula was a noble goal and mission that South and North Korea must achieve.
COVID-19 crisis he said had laid bare the reality that the two Koreas constitute not only a shared community of fate but a shared community of life in terms of public health.
The President of the JAK, Mr Dong Hoon Kim said WJC was established in 2013 to support the course of promoting peace and contribute to the advancement of journalism.
He said the fact that South and North Korea remained the only separated nations on earth should remind journalists of the importance of peace as a tool that fosters development.
Professor Min Kyu Lee of the School of Media and Communication, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea who spoke on “Fake news and the future of journalism”, noted that fake news spread faster than the virus pandemic.
He identified political control, profit, revolution and merriment or satire as the four types of fake news and said it was time to prioritise fact-based and accountability journalism.
Prof. Lee commended the efforts by the Korean Government and the media in combating the scourge of fake news.
BY MALIK SULLEMANA