Truth Is My Sword Volume I -Collected Speeches in the Public Arena
by Bo Hi Pak
A Free and Responsible Media
October 5, 1982
The Fifth World Media Conference was significant in that it introduced many of the participants to South Korea, which had become known as a miracle of economic development. At Panmunjom at the Demilitarized Zone, participants saw first-hand the tense dividing-line between communism and democracy. This is Dr. Pak's opening address given at the Fifth World Media Conference at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul, Korea, on October 5, 1982.
Good morning, Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of News World Communications, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to the participants of the Fifth World Media Conference, and I am especially happy to be able to welcome you to the Republic of Korea.
One of the fringe benefits of attending a conference in Korea is that it offers an opportunity to see a modern-day miracle in the making. As you know, this small peninsula nation was totally destroyed by war only 30 years ago. The city of Seoul, with its wide avenues and impressive skyline, was in 1950 one giant desert like the surface of the moon. Those of you who were here then and who are returning for the first time must wonder if this is really the same country you saw leveled to the ground just a few years ago.
Many visitors find it amazing that we are only 30 miles away from enemy guns. While it is true the guns are silent, the war never really ended. Make no mistake: If North Korea thought it could be successful, it would invade tomorrow-and millions more would perish. Yet, despite what happened and continues to happen, Korea is thriving, even at gunpoint. Our economy is booming. This peninsula is truly a miracle in the making. Therefore, unlike other conferences, we have planned a most exciting three-day sightseeing orientation tour of the country. You will see Panmunjom and the communist-dug tunnels in the Demilitarized Zone. Through these sights you will come to the poignant realization that Korea is on the very frontline of the free world. You will see also the ancient capital of Kyongju in order to appreciate that Korea gave birth to one of the truly ancient cultures of the world.
The World Media Association began in 1978 with just a handful of communications specialists, most of them scholars. In just five years we have grown to more than 200 participants and 50 spouses. You flew here, some of you, from halfway around the world, from newspapers, radio and television stations, film companies, magazines, and universities. This is indeed a most difficult group of people to bring together because you always work against deadlines. In a way we succeeded this year already by the mere fact that we brought together over 200 participants from more than 70 nations, with a level of participation that is highly distinguished.
One primary reason we have such a high quality of participation this year is due to the leadership of the conference. We consider ourselves fortunate to have Mr. William Rusher, the publisher of National Review and an internationally known newspaper columnist, as conference chairman. Mr. Rusher and National Review magazine are well known throughout the world. I want to make it clear that his leadership as conference chairman has brought an extraordinary new dimension to our meeting, for which I am deeply grateful. I also extend my congratulations to our many distinguished speakers, such as those seated at the head table, and our equally important session speakers in the audience. Thank you all for coming, and please accept my deepest appreciation.
At this time please allow me to offer a word of thanks to the founder of the World Media Association, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, without whose support and inspiration there would be no such meaningful gathering today. The most important aspect of our founder is his undying spirit to serve God and humanity, and out of that spirit he saw the dire need for such a conference-a gathering of distinguished communication leaders. Reverend Moon recognizes the enormous power of the media, a power that essentially can make or break our world.
It is fundamental to the nature of man to want to design the world the way he thinks it will work best. In a sense we all want to be co-creators with God and build the best possible world. Of course, to build anything, you need tools, and the media in this age of communication are an awesome tool. Like any tool, they become either good or bad depending on how they are used: they can create the highest good or the lowest evil.
For this reason we started the World Media Association, and it is why at each year's gathering we focus on media responsibility and the values held by the men and women who wield such power. When President Reagan was felled by the bullet of a would-be-assassin, the news of that event reached the world's capitals within minutes. Today not only is information immediately available to us from around the world, but we maintain an insatiable curiosity about the future. We continuously predict and imagine events. The media inform our imaginations; they deal with the human mind; their influence reaches into the most fundamental aspects of our lives: our basic responses, the formation of our opinions and our capacity for decision-making.
Yes, the power is there. In the United States I dare say the media are more powerful than all three branches of government combined. On one hand, you have the president, senators, congressmen, and supreme court justices, combining centuries of skill and experience. However, if conditions present themselves, they can all be shot down by a 21-year-old news editor just out of college. One journalist will not destroy a government, of course, but if journalists act irresponsibly as a group, if they hunt in packs, as is sometimes suggested, the media as a collective force have the capability to drive a president from office or cause armed forces to be defeated, in spite of victories won on the battlefield. We all witnessed the Watergate affair and the Vietnam War.
But to its credit, the media, when used well, can do more to end tyranny than the greatest army. The most isolated totalitarian state is still affected by world opinion and, for that reason, the media can be a best friend of oppressed people and a champion of justice.
Whether they speak truth or falsehood, whether they are used as an instrument of good or evil, the media directly affect the destiny of billions of people, even of the world itself. With that in mind, my question is: Why are there not more conferences like this one? Why is there not constant public self-examination on the part of the media? Should we as journalists not set aside much more time than we do to reflect on our responsibilities to present and future generation? Yes, we should.
For those reasons Reverend Moon founded the World Media Association. We believe absolutely in the principle of a free media, but we equally encourage a responsible media. Shaping the world the way we want requires that we practice humility, responsibility, and good -heartedness.
Reverend Moon has brought you together. The soccer ball is in your half of the field. What happens next is up to you.
Thank you, and enjoy the conference.
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