In Korea, whistleblowers are perceived to be disloyal to their companies and therefore branded as “traitors.” The South Korean Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) wants to change that perception via a one-hour documentary, airing June 6, that I am delighted to be part of.
I’ll be in good company. EBS contacted and interviewed Louis Clark, Executive Director of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), who gave them my name and Robert MacLean, the Federal Air Marshall Whistleblower. It was MacLean who successfully blew the whistle in 2003 on “agency plans that sought to secretly neutralize budget shortfalls from “buddy system” pork barrel contracts … by canceling long distance air marshal coverage.” “After public outcry and congressional outrage, DHS withdrew the order, and said it all had been a mistake…
However, three years later the agency fired Mr. MacLean by retroactively designating the previously unrestricted information he sent in a text message (his whistleblowing disclosure) as Sensitive Security Information (SSI), which is one of many secrecy categories created by government agencies for unclassified information.”
Freelance producer Won Young Park discusses making the documentary on whistleblowing:
The EBS team, producer Hong Seok Choi, cameraman Euisoeng Jeong and their U.S. counterpart, independent producer Won Young Park, visited with me in Dallas, interviewing me at the University of Texas at Dallas campus about my Citigroup whistleblowing and its ramifications.
The team has also interviewed Bob Matheson, Head of Advocacy and Advice for Protect, a UK company that works on protecting and advising whistleblowers.
He was asked what could be done to change the public perception of whistleblowers as traitors without loyalty for speaking up and for his suggestions to improve whistleblowing in South Korean society.
He said, by embedding a culture for the large magnitude of day-to-day wrongdoing, we familiarize society with what whistleblowing actually means, and pave the way for societal change… education and familiarization. A lot of the negative views towards whistleblowers come from a place of misunderstanding. Whistleblowers are in fact, integral to making our hospitals safe, our financial institutions stable, and our governments uncorrupt. Once what is at stake is made clear, who can really argue with that?
“Whistleblowers are often thought of as disloyal, and yet most individuals who I’ve spoken to are extremely loyal to the aims of the organization,” which I can personally attest to.
Working with EBS was an honor. The organization won numerous awards for their work in complementing public education. Their focus on informing, educating, engaging and enlightening has earned them five to ten times higher viewing ratings than other channels.
Many parts of the world still have a negative outlook towards whistleblowing. The folks at EBS want this documentary to show that whistleblowing can be an honorable thing to do and is sometimes needed to protect the company, its stakeholders and the public.
I’m glad I got to contribute and be a part of what they are trying to accomplish.