Stomping the Presses

President Kim Dae Jung treasures his reputation as the pro-democracy hero who risked his lifeómore than onceóto end South Korea's long period of military rule, for which he earned the sobriquet of Asia's Nelson Mandela. Kim took office promising to protect Korea's fledgling democracy and its freedoms, including an unharassed media. In a 1998 address, the newly elected Kim stressed the importance of a vibrant, sharp-tongued press: "A President should not wish to hear only sweet words."

Maybe he changed his mind. Earlier this year Kim's government launched a tax investigation of 23 newspapers and broadcast companies. The...

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