KBS CEO and President dismissed

12th September 2023
The Public Media Alliance is concerned after the CEO and President of KBS, Kim Eui-chul, was dismissed from his position by the board of directors.
KBS building in Seoul
Seoul, South Korea - Low angle view of KBS(Korean Broadcasting System) building. Credit: Stock for you / Shutterstock.com


  • The President and CEO of KBS, Kim Eui-chul, has been dismissed by the KBS Board of Directors.
  • There have been recent personnel changes on the Board of Directors to swing the balance in favour of the ruling Conservative party.
  • Kim has promised to take legal action, while the five board members who opposed his dismissal have described the decision as “arbitrary”.


The President and CEO of KBS, Kim Eui-chul, who was appointed in 2021 under the former President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, has been dismissed from his role, a year before the end of his term. President Yoon Seok-yeol, who was elected last year, approved the dismissal on 12 September.

The Board of Directors voted six to five in favour of dismissing Mr. Kim, a consequential margin given recent changes in the makeup of the board. Over the summer, two members of the board had been dismissed and replaced by government-aligned candidates, meaning the board consisted of six ‘conservatives’ and five ‘liberals’.

Read more: No end in sight for crisis facing KBS

Kim Eui-chul
Kim Eui-Chul is the President & CEO of KBS. Credit: KBS

Following the decision, the five liberal board members who opposed the dismissal held a press conference. “The passage is illegal because it lacks legitimacy in terms of procedure and content,” they were quoted as saying by The Korea Times. “We strongly protest the arbitrary decision by the members from the ruling bloc.”

The motion to dismiss Mr. Kim was launched at the end of August. Mr. Kim was accused of a lack of leadership, KBS’ worsening financial situation, and a decline in public trust. In his reaction, Mr. Kim said the decision was “just a formality”. He has also promised to seek legal action. “Like in the past, a tedious legal battle will continue. … Undoubtedly, I will have to endure enormous personal and social hardships throughout this process.”

Mr. Kim will be replaced by the current Vice-President who has been appointed on an interim basis for a period of around two months.

Changes at the top of KBS is not a new phenomenon, as The Korea Times outlined. Similar reshuffles had occurred in 2008, following the election of conservative President Lee-Myung-bak, and then again in 2018, one year into the presidency of the liberal Moon Jae-in.

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Ongoing pressure for KBS

It comes at a time of huge uncertainty for KBS, which is under sustained financial pressure. Over the summer, the government approved significant changes to the funding system for KBS. KBS is now solely responsible for collecting the licence fee, at a predicted cost of 200 billion Won.

In August, KBS declared an emergency in response to the change in funding. It has also filed a complaint to the Constitutional Court, saying the constitutional freedom of broadcasting was violated.


The Public Media Alliance is significantly concerned about the recent actions of the government, in first reshaping the Board of Directors, and then approving the removal of Kim Eui-chul. The sequence of events indicates this has been a deliberate ploy to install a political ally to lead the public service broadcaster.

This is not a new phenomenon, given there is some precedence for such action in the South Korean context. Even so, the politicisation of any public broadcaster’s governance mechanism raises concern for that organisation’s ability to operate independently and impartially. This is especially so at KBS, where there have been uncharacteristically rapid changes to both its governance and funding mechanisms in recent months.