S. Korea’s Press Freedom Continues to Decline

That’s the conclusion of the International Press Institute, whose latest country report blames the Roh Administration for pursuing a political vendetta against unfriendly press:

Towards this end, in 2005, the government used its authority to create legislation and use it as a weapon in its fight against the three big conservative dailies: the Chosun Ilbo, the Dong-a Ilbo and the Joong Ang Ilbo.

At the beginning of January, the governing Uri Party pushed through the National Assembly two press reform bills: the “Act Governing the Guarantee of Freedom and Functions of Newspapers” (“Newspaper Law or Press Law”) and the “Newspaper and Press Arbitration Law” (“Press Arbitration Law”). Both bills have been criticised and deemed unconstitutional by the opposition Grand National Party, the country’s largest media groups as well as international organisations, including IPI.

You should be wincing by now, given the lousy free-speech credentials and questionable constitutional interpretations of certain GNP’ers. The IPI would have done itself a big favor by not even citing them. On the other hand, this criticism is on target:

At a 27 June public hearing for revision of the laws, attorney Lee Jae-gyo said, “The press law is effectively aimed at offering carrots to pro-government media outlets, such as broadcasting companies and [the on-line newspaper] Oh My News, while imposing sticks on others, including Dong-A Ilbo, Chosun Ilbo, and Joong Ang llbo.”

You can read a longer, more detailed post on South Korea’s efforts to control the press here.

h/t: (of course) Chosun Ilbo