By Lee Han-na
Sohn Suk-hee, a star journalist and president of cable channel JTBC news division, is facing the biggest crisis of his life.
Since January, he has been under investigation for assaulting freelance journalist Kim Woong.
Sohn's career is at stake as rumors about his alleged extra marital relationship is spreading fast online, an allegation he denied.
Bae Kuk-nam, a fellow journalist and media critic, characterizes the current situation surrounding Sohn as "a conspiracy" to bring the star journalist down.
In his new book "Why Sohn Suk-hee?" published by EAST-ASIA Publishing Co., Bae says it is not the first time that Sohn has been under scrutiny for different rumors and attacks made by people who hated him.
Previously, the author claims there were several other "groundless" rumors regarding his house purchase in Seoul's posh area of Pyeongchang-dong and his sons' military duty as well. Bae says there are also malicious lawsuits and publications targeting Sohn, noting he survived all those allegations.
|Why Sohn Suk-hee? by Bae Kuk-nam / Courtesy of EAST-ASIA Publishing Co.|
The passionate author's concern has always been on the state of journalism in Korea and media standards ― how can they perform better? This time, he turned his attention on the star anchor of JTBC nightly news.
Sohn, who started his career as an MBC's news anchor in 1984, is one of the most trusted and influential journalists in Korea and he has consistently ranked at the top in public opinion surveys of journalists, for more than a decade.
Sohn is also a favorite of media critics. They say that Sohn has set a good example for journalists through his ethical journalism. He fought for freedom of expression since his twenties, according to Bae.
The author praises Sohn for his single-minded pursuit for fair journalism throughout his career.
Bae claims Sohn fought against rumors and allegations made by Park Geun-hye supporters who were angered by JTBC's coverage of Park's long-time friend Choi Soon-sil's tablet PC.
The author credits Sohn as the key figure behind the rise of the JTBC as a trustable media organization following their reports of the Choi scandal.
Bae lauds JTBC for its five principles ― namely, truth, balance, fairness, and dignity ― that served as the media's guiding light regarding journalism standards. These values led JTBC to make the scoop on Choi's table PC, a critical event that turned the tide against then President Park and later led to her impeachment.
In "Why Sohn Suk-hee?" the author claims Sohn was behind all the positive progress JTBC has made since he joined the cable channel.
The journalist was also instrumental in reforming Korean journalism. On JTBC news, Sohn introduced background music and impressive quotes from books and movies in his anchor's commentary at the end of the news program.
The author also lauds Sohn's charismatic leadership. Based on interviews with Sohn's colleagues, the author says Sohn is blunt, realistic, humble, funny and even artistic.
Lee Han-na is a Korea Times intern.