Samuel Seo, the president of Korean news agency Yonhap and a vocal critic of President Moon Jae-in, was named the most popular news personality in Korea last month by the media watchdog Korea Media Watch.
In the latest data compiled by Korea Media Trust (KMFT), Seo is at number two.
Seo was named in its monthly top 10 list of the most visited celebrities, ahead of President Park Geun-hye and rapper Psy.
Seon was also ranked at number three in the list of “top news personalities” by the Seoul-based media watchdog.
Seo’s popularity was also reflected in the number of stories that Seo wrote and broadcast on Korean television, radio and online, according to KMFT.
Seon was in a unique position to garner international attention for his criticisms of Moon and Moon’s administration.
He is also a vocal opponent of the current administration and is one of the few Korean politicians to have been jailed or suspended.
Seons imprisonment and suspension led to a massive media blackout in Korea.
In an interview with The Times of India, Seo said he had “never felt so lonely” in his life.
“I feel like I’m stuck on a lonely island, like nobody will talk to me,” he said.
“There is no one to speak to.”
In a statement, Seon said, “I was forced to give up my life to make a public statement against my government’s policies.
I am truly grateful for the support I received and the support of the media in the US and around the world.”
Seon, who has served as president of the Korea Society of South Korean Journalists since 2008, said he was “deeply disappointed” with the decision of the Korean media watchdog to name him as its most popular celebrity.
“I was very happy to be named the number one most popular media personality in South Korea, but my career as a Korean journalist is in tatters.
I feel so sad about the state of my profession and the impact that the ban has had on my personal life,” he told The Times.
“It was not that I did not want to be a public critic of the government, but now I can’t even look at the newspapers I write about my own country.”
Seo said that the “unnecessary restrictions” imposed on him by the government have led to “the most difficult years” of his life, as he struggled to raise his son.
“In the past few years, I’ve lost my job, my family and my home,” he explained.
Seong Ho, the editor of Korean daily Rodong Sinmun, told The Hindu that Seon’s case has “had a chilling effect on the media coverage” of Seon.
“If the government had banned the press and Seon had not been able to get any coverage, the situation would have been much worse,” he added.
The Korean government had reportedly sought to have Seon sentenced to a jail term of up to seven years for “insulting the ruling party and violating the Constitution”, which he said he would have fought in court.
“We hope the court decides against this,” he stated.
Seohyun Lee, the head of Korea’s largest media group, the Korea Press Club, told the Times of Indian that Seohyung “has always stood up for his own rights”.
“It is clear that he has been very vocal in his opposition to Moon’s government and his criticism of the president has been extremely critical,” she said.
Seolwoo, the youngest son of former president Park Chung-hee, also voiced his opposition.
“He is a man who knows his own thoughts and opinions, so I’m sure he has thought about his words and thoughts,” he lamented.
“My father is a hero, so we must keep up our fight for democracy.”