April 2016


Sewol: The Truth Shall Not Sink - South Korea's Investigative Journalism on the Rise

Friday 15.04.2016 7:00 PM | Saal

Admission: free

Organizer: Werkstatt der Kulturen/ Korea-Verband e.V.

Co-Operation Flyer

SEWOL: The Truth Shall Not Sink

South Korea's Investigative Journalism on the Rise

Film | Discussion | Concert

The sinking of the passenger ferry Sewol in South Korea in 2014 brought the formerly unknown investigative newsroom Newstapa to the foreground of South Korea's media landscape.

About the Guests

In the German media, there is a lack of awareness of the critical situation of freedom of speech in South Korea. When the passenger ferry Sewol sank on 16 April 2014 in the Yellow Sea, it was not only a traumatic experience for South Korea, it was, above all, a watershed event for the media.

Among critical observers at home and abroad, it became known as a failure of the media, in particular the stations ties to the government were criticized. Repeatedly, there were the same, pro-government reports that shaped media events at the time of the ferry disaster and drove the exaggerated distrust in the population towards the dominant media outlets.

The Video Podcast Channel Newstapa, in existance since 2012, was the first independent news channel in South Korea funded solely by member donations.

This new generation of journalism succeeded in bringing to light hard evidence on the obfuscation and cover up attempts of the government. Thus Newstapa put themselves on the map - the considerable reputation of the citizen-focused medium penetrated not only South Korea, but extended all the way to the USA and Europe.

Christian Humborg, manager of the first non-profit research center CORRECT!V, will be hosting this evening's event. Guest speaker Kihoon Choi from Newstapa will be joining him to discuss the effectiveness of investigative journalism in the case of the Sewol disaster.

The program will begin with a short documentation "Sewol Ferry One-Year Special: Cruel Times, Lies of a Nation” by Newstapa on the sinking of the Sewol ferry. Afterwards, the journalists will talk about their respective investigative offices with the audience.

Host: Christian Humborg (CORRECT!V)

Guest: Kihoon Choi (Newstapa)


On the evening of 15 April, a shortened version of the documentary film »Cruel Times, Lies of a Nation« by Newstapa will be shown, which was released in 2015 as a special in South Korea on the first anniversary of the sinking of Sewol.
Afterwards, a panel discussion will be held with our guests. With Kihoon Choi, we will have an opportunity to talk about Newstapa and the Sewol incident. Further, the evening will be hosted by Christian Humborg, who has worked as the manager of Correctiv in the field of investigative and non-profit journalism in Germany.

From 15 April to 30 April 2016, the Action Group SEWOL Berlin will be presenting various works in the exhibition "Memory of the Sewol victims" in the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN. With their artistic actions and regular demonstrations in front of the Brandenburg Gate, the group has drawn attention in the past two years to the ferry disaster and its consequences in South Korea.

The program will begin with a short documentation by Newstapa on the sinking of the Sewol ferry, "Sewol Ferry One-Year Special: Cruel Times, Lies of a Nation”. 


Since 2013, Kihoon Choi has been working as an editor for the Korea Center for Investigative Journalism (뉴스타파 한국탐사저널리즘센터 KCIJ).His experience as a journalist goes back 20 years when he was still at the state news Agency YTN. For the KCIJ, he contributed to the special reports in 2013 on the case of manipulation of opinion in social networks by the South Korean intelligence service during the 2012 presidential election in South Korea. The following year, he served as an editor on the documentary of the catastrophe of Sewol.

Christian Humborg has been managing director of CORRECT!V since 2014. He was previously head of the anti-corruption organization Transparency International Germany after he had worked for several years in the business sector. On behalf of Correctiv, he advocates for press freedom and freedom of opinion and for the protection and development of the whistleblower network. During his varied career path, he became involved with various organizations and activities. He was a member of the author blog carta.info, which in 2009 won the Grimme Online Award.


The event "The Truth Shall Not Sink" will be held on the two year anniversary of the sinking of the Sewol ferry, which occurred on 16 April 2014. The tragedy of Sewol revealed the dark side of a social system that - due to a lacking sense of responsibility of senior officials, the enforcement of non-transparent practices and the belief of profit-oriented thinking - weakened the proper functionality of the interlocking subsystems. In addition to the more than 200 deaths, citizens are also victims of the state who cannot find peace as long as the truth is not revealed about the accident. People like Kihoon Choi from the Korean Center of Investigative Journalism or Christian Humborg of Correctiv belong to a group of people who keep the search for truth going through critical questioning. South Korea's national tragedy of the sinking of the Sewol ferry highlights a case study for investigative journalism, without which the calls for justice by the bereaved of the Sewol victims would have otherwise faded away, unheard, in the competitive sphere of public media.



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More articles can be found on the website of Korea-Verband e.V.

This event is a cooperation between WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN and Korea-Verband e.V..


The facilities of the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN are accessible to wheelchair users. Please call us in advance on +49 (0)30 60 97 70-0 to ensure proper access support.