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Korean Minister Apologizes for Blacklisting Artists, Denies Involvement

South Korean Culture Minister, Cho Yoon-sun has admitted the existence of a government-operated blacklist of over 9,000 local artists. Cho made the apology statement during Monday’s parliamentary probe of the current political scandal that led to South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment last month.

“As the minister in charge of cultural policies, I sincerely apologize that I gave pain to artists and failed to unveil whether the list existed through a thorough investigation,” she said.

Cho is one of the closest aides to the impeached Park, and the blacklist is believed to have been compiled when Cho served as head of the State Affairs Committee.

“As far as I understand, there exists a blacklist created to classify specific artists and to exclude them from receiving government support funds,” said Cho. “But since I do not know anything about how the document was created or distributed, nor have I ever seen the document, there is nothing that I can say about it.”

On Sunday (Jan 8), the independent counsel team confirmed the list that contains the names of some 9,000 artists exists and that Cho and Kim Ki-choon, a former presidential chief of staff, were involved in creating it.

The backlist reportedly included the country’s top filmmakers Park Chan-wook (“The Handmaiden”), Bong Joon-ho (“Snowpiercer”) and actor Song Kang-ho (“The Age of Shadows”). It is understood that such artists have been blacklisted as they may have offended the Park regime by protesting against the government’s handling of the Sewol ferry sinking, supporting the opposition Minjoo Party’s Moon Jae-in in the presidential bid in 2012, or by supporting Park Won-soon for Seoul Mayor in 2014.

“I will closely cooperate with the special prosecutor. I believe the truth (about the blacklist) will soon be unveiled,” said Cho. She refused to provide further detail about the blacklist as she has been already charged with perjury.

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