Wall Street Journal threatened with suit over bribery article
SOUTH KOREA–After the South Korean government threatened to sue The Wall Street Journal for libel in late November, the paper published an “amplification” of an article in which business executives discussed the practice of providing holiday gifts of money to government officials “as a hedge against punitive treatment by South Korea’s powerful bureaucrats.”
The article appeared in the Journal on November 21 under the headline, “South Koreans Say Bribes Are Part of Life: Probe of Ex- President Doesn’t Touch Systemic Graft.” On November 23, the Associated Press reported that the South Korean government threatened legal action against Dow Jones, Inc., the paper’s parent company, because the Journal report damaged the reputation of the government and the Korean people.
In the corrections and amplifications column on November 27, the paper stated, “An article reported that, in light of traditional payments of ttuk kab, or ‘rice cake expenses,’ the Korean business community expects to offer holiday payments to cabinet ministers and government officials this year. The article has been read to imply that Korean ministers and officials will in fact accept such holiday payments. The Journal did not intend to make such an allegation and regrets any such inference.”
Soodong O, Counsel for Press Affairs at the Korean Embassy, said the incident was settled after the amplification was printed and after the Journal published a positive story about the movement for political reform in Korea.