By Na Jeong-ju
MBC President Kim Jae-chul is sinking under growing pressure from the broadcaster's labor union and liberal civic groups to step down.
Their demand came just one day after his attempted resignation, in "revolt" against the Korea Communications Commission's decision to disapprove a planned merger of the broadcaster's two regional branches, was not accepted by the largest shareholder of the broadcaster.
Last week, Kim Jae-chul tendered his resignation to the Foundation for Broadcast Culture (FBC), the single largest shareholder of the nation's second largest broadcaster, after the regulator disapproved the proposed merger between MBC's Jinju and Changwon stations, one of his key projects.
On Monday, however, the FBC rejected his resignation offer and reaffirmed its support for Kim as the MBC president at an extraordinary board meeting.
"Kim offered to quit not because he wanted to quit, but because he wanted to take ethical responsibility for the failure to win KCC's approval for the merger", said Cha Ki-hwan, FBC spokesman and one of its nine board members.
"Thus, the FBC board put up the issue of whether to accept his resignation offer to a vote. A majority of members rejected it, so Kim will remain in the position".
To avoid a legal dispute, the FBC will convene a shareholders' meeting as early as possible to endorse the FBC's decision, the spokesman said. Three liberal board members boycotted the vote.
Kim reportedly attended the board meeting before the vote, and explained that he had no real intention of stepping down, and that his resignation offer was an act of protest against the KCC's disapproval of the merger.
The insincere nature of his behavior remains controversial. Some liberal groups questioned whether he acted in a responsible manner as head of a public broadcaster.
The MBC union urged him to quit, or else launch a strike.
"Kim offered to resign last week, but is now telling us that it was just a show of discontent. Even the owner of a hole-in-the-wall shop wouldn't act like him", the union said in a statement. "We will oppose him because he is not qualified to remain in his role. He is acting just like a politician".
The Korea Producers and Directors Association also denounced his irresponsible act and called for his immediate actual resignation Tuesday, saying it is a matter of public confidence for MBC.
Kim, 57, was elected to serve out the remaining one-year term of former MBC chief Ohm Ki-young, who resigned in February last year. Kim secured an additional three-year term in February this year.
Unionized workers of MBC hold a rally at the broadcaster's headquarters in Seoul, demanding its President Kim Jae-chul step down, Tuesday. / Yonhap