South Korea | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

South Korea

South Korea

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Despite a change in government in 2003, freedoms of the press and of expression in South Korea continued to be generally respected, although provisions in the National Security Law are sometimes used to restrict the propagation of ideas that authorities consider Communist or pro-North Korean. In recent years, several journalists have been prosecuted under criminal libel laws for critical or aggressive reporting, and in August President Roh filed a civil defamation suit against four mainstream newspapers. Shortly after assuming office, Roh also replaced the press rooms at government departments with daily government briefings. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the move was criticized by larger media outlets on the basis that it limited their access to officials but was welcomed by smaller outlets that had been excluded under the previous system. Print media outlets, which are privately owned, scrutinize governmental policies and alleged official and corporate wrongdoing. However, many are controlled by or associated with substantial business interests, and some journalists are also susceptible to bribery. Most broadcast media are state-subsidized but nevertheless offer diverse views.