Introduction of Journalists Association of Korea
The Journalists Association of Korea (JAK) is the largest organization of professional journalists in Korea with a current membership of over 10,000 individual journalists working for the nation's newspaper companies, broadcasting services, Internet news, and news agencies.
The JAK was founded on August 17, 1964 as a united force for struggle to deter the Press Ethics Commission Law that institutionalized the then-military government's inference with the media. Since its foundation, the Association has advocated five Codes of Conduct leading up to today, which are the protection of freedom of speech; the improvement of the quality of journalists; the protection of the rights and interests of journalists; the achievement of peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula; and the strengthening of international exchanges with journalists around the world.
The Journalists Association of Korea comprises a president, a group of vice-presidents, an advisory group, an auditor, six standing subcommittees, including subcommittees on freedom of the press, protection of rights and interests, research, international exchanges, disciplinary actions, and reunification, as well as 10 branch offices based in metropolitan cities and provinces across the country. The JAK president is elected through a direct election system and his/her term is two years.
Meanwhile, the JAK offers special awards to its member journalists who display outstanding journalism, such as the annual Korea Journalist Award and the monthly Award for Journalist of the Month. The Korea Journalist Award established in 1967 is the nation's most prestigious press award in terms of history, tradition and authority, as its 46-year history indicates. Established in 1990, the Award for Journalist of the Month is decided by selecting news articles with journalistic excellence through strict screening procedures among news articles in the nation's newspapers, broadcasting services or on the Internet.
The Journalists Association of Korea also strives to improve the expertise and professionalism of its members through various seminars, forums, discussion sessions and domestic and overseas training. In addition, the JAK carries out journalist talent donation activities through a program where journalists visit schools to explain the social roles of the media, newspaper and broadcasting production processes and news coverage cases, etc.
The Journalists Association of Korea publishes a weekly magazine, which was founded on November 10, 1964 as an important medium to publicize the activities of the Association. The weekly offers in-depth analysis of the rapidly changing media environment monitors whether the media is properly fulfilling its role, and presents viable alternatives.
The Journalists Association of Korea has maintained brisk exchanges not only with international journalists associations-notably, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)-but also individual journalists around the world. The JAK has been interacting with All-China Journalists Association and the Vietnam Journalists Association through annual mutual exchange programs since 1990. In addition, it successfully hosted the 24th general meeting of the IFJ in 2001 and the East Asia Journalist Forum in 2003, as well as the Asia Journalist Forum and the Overseas Korean Journalist Forum. The JAK also hosted a conference attended by journalists from Korea, China and vietnam in 2012.
The Journalists Association of Korea is also engaged in inter-Korean journalist exchanges to promote peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula. In 2006, there was a historic meeting of 172 journalists from South and North Korea at Mt. Kumgang for the first time since the division of the Peninsula in 1945. Since then, heads of the JAK have visited Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, to exchange opinions on peace on the Korean Peninsula with North Korean journalists. As of 2013, inter-Korean journalist's exchanges were temporarily suspended due to the intrusion of political factors. In addition, the Journalists Association of Korea organizes a journalist soccer tournament every May and the Mt. Sokri climbing contest every October to boost friendship among its members.
The Journalists Association of Korea, which has taken the lead in defending the freedom of the press against suppression by the authoritarian rule and appeasement of journalists via capital over the past five decades, will continue to do its utmost to not only improve the quality of journalists and guarantee their rights, but also to advance journalism in the era of new media and faithfully fulfill the public functions of the media.