Seoul: South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol will stop holding routine Q&As with the press starting Monday, after a reporter got into an argument with one of his aides during a session last week, his office said.
The incident took place on November 18 after Yoon said it was “unavoidable” that his office barred local broadcaster MBC’s reporters from boarding the presidential plane to cover his Southeast Asia trip earlier this month, given that it showed “very malicious behaviour” with its “fake news”, reports Yonhap News Agency.
Yoon was referring to MBC’s airing of his hot mic moment in New York in September, which was subtitled to make it appear that he used vulgar language to talk about US lawmakers and President Joe Biden.
As he walked away to go up to his office, an MBC reporter shouted at his back, “What did MBC do that was malicious?”
Soon after, he got into a heated argument with a presidential aide who scolded him for being rude.
“The presidential office has decided to suspend doorstepping as of November 21,” it said on Monday in a notice to the press.
“We decided that it could not be continued without fundamental measures to prevent a recurrence of the recent unsavoury incident.”
“Doorstepping was conceived for open communication with the people,” it added. “We will consider resuming it if measures are drawn up to properly fulfill that purpose.”
Doorstepping the president as he arrives for work has become a Yoon hallmark and given reporters unprecedented access to the president in his first six months in office.
The sessions have never been discontinued except briefly following a Covid-19 outbreak in the press room located in the same building as the President’s Office and during a week-long national mourning period over the Halloween crowd crush.
In the early months, the Q&As were sometimes blamed for a decline in Yoon’s approval ratings as he appeared to make unfiltered remarks.