Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Washington Times has long been associated with media fact-finding tours — notably, in the late 1980s, its visits to Russia with the World Media Association led to historic meetings with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and many key representatives of the Soviet Union.

In 2015, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, who founded The Washington Times in 1982 with her late husband, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, called for a renewed effort in media to strengthen relations between the U.S., South Korea and Japan. The Washington Times, then organized regular fact-finding trips to South Korea and Japan, and welcomed congressmen from Japan and Korea to Washington, D.C., for educational programs and briefings on Capitol Hill.

In addition to the clear educational purposes of the fact-finding trips, these endeavors help further the mission of The Washington Times to report the truth and to express opinion with the core values of freedom, family, faith and service in mind.

In February 2015, a delegation of U.S. journalists participated in the “Prospects for Peace in Northeast Asia Conference for Media and Policy Leaders,” which was co-chaired by Washington Times President and CEO Larry Beasley and former Indiana Rep. Dan Burton.

Media briefings by North Korean defectors, intelligence experts and current and former elected officials give journalists first-hand knowledge of national security issues and threats to peace in Southeast Asia. Regular participants including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill, the former U.S. Ambassador to Korea, Ambassador Joseph Detrani, former envoy to the Six-Party Talks, and Dr. Alexandre Mansourov, an international security expert at Georgetown University have added much insight for both the U.S. delegations and those met in Korea.

Based on the fact-finding tours, The Times has published Special Sections on the tensions and nuclear threat in North and South Korea, and gathered solutions from experts. In 2017, journalists and others were given that chance to meet the highest-level defector from North Korea, Thae Yong Ho.

Ambassador Hill was impressed with his candid and honest briefing. He shared the reality of secrecy surrounding Kim Jong-un’s schedule and the fact that the North Korean chairman has established full control in his country.

The 2017 transition in South Korea from President Pak and the Saenuri Party to the Minjoo Party was significant. At first it was unclear as to how well the government led by President Moon Jae-in would be able to work with President Trump and his administration. However, The Times’ delegations have been impressed at the commitment of President Moon to work harmoniously with the U.S. — and his leadership had a lot to do with the success of his meetings with Chairman Kim and the meetings between President Trump and Chairman Kim.

The fact that this situation has changed from a “war footing” to a basis of dialogue is a very good thing. On January 10, 2018, Times’ White House Correspondent Dave Boyer wrote that President Moon recognized the contribution of President Trump in opening the door from war to dialogue and possible peace. “It could be a resulting work of the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure,” President Moon Jae-in told reporters. “I think President Trump deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks.”

The Times was also pleased to find from the U.S. embassy briefing that the 2002 low point of the popularity of America with the Korean public has been reversed, and now America is seen as the most trusted ally. This news from the embassy was supported in February 2018 by the Asan Policy Institute for Policy Studies survey. One aspect of what The Times’ delegations learned is that the military cooperation between U.S., Korea and Japan, with open sharing and coordination of information, has had a significant and beneficial impact on trust.

In May 2017, a Times fact-finding tour went to Japan. Times Executive Editor (now Editor-in-Chief) Christopher Dolan and Times Security Team Leader Guy Taylor accompanied the delegation for the off-the-record meetings with legislators, intelligence experts and media professionals. The development of friendship and trust through these meetings has immeasurable value for providing in-depth coverage of key issues in the U.S., Korea and Japan alliance.

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