South Korea | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

South Korea

South Korea

Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status


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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


President Roh Moo-hyun's tenure as head of the liberal Uri Party government has been marked by disputes with conservative media outlets and allegations that the government has acted to reduce the media's influence through two new media reform laws that were passed in January. The Law Governing the Guarantee of Freedom and Functions of Newspapers Etc. (also known as the Newspaper Law) requires all newspapers, including those with internet sites, to register with the government and designates newspapers with a market share of more than 30 percent, or a combined total of 60 percent for three dailies, as "dominant market players." In the event that a dominant player engages in unfair trade practices, it may be subject to a cease-and-desist order or suffer financial penalties. The law also allows for the creation of a newspaper distribution agency. Despite local and international opposition, the law went into effect in July; however, the newspapers Chosun Ilbo (whose market share exceeds 30 percent) and Dong-a Ilbo have challenged its constitutionality. A second piece of legislation, the Law Governing Press Arbitration and Damage Relief (also known as the Press Arbitration Law), empowers the Press Arbitration Commission to examine infringements by media of the interests of the state and individual citizens; third-party petitions concerning infringements are also permitted in the absence of a direct petition from a victim. In July, the new powers of the Press Arbitration Commission allowed the Roh administration to appeal for corrections in an editorial piece published in Chosun Ilbo about President Roh's coalition government. Censorship of the media is against the law in South Korea, though some websites have been blocked for posting pro