A report from RSF (Reporters without Borders) shows that Korea is ranked 70th out of 180 countrieson the ‘Press Freedom Index Scale of 2015’. Korea’s press freedom ranking has been steadily declining since 2002, despite having a diverse media sector, with numerous cable and satellite television stations and more than 100 daily newspapers. According to RSF, relations between the media and the authorities under President Park Geun-hye have been very tense in 2015, and the government has displayed a growing inability to tolerate criticism from media and press. A defamation law providing for sentences of up to seven years in prison, whose charges are occasionally threatened or brought against reporters or commentators who criticize the government, is also considered as one of the main reasons for self-censorship in the media.
Also, Freedomhouse reported Korea’s press freedom as ‘partly free’ on ‘Freedom of the Press 2016’. Korea scored lowest on political environment among legal, political, and economic environment. Freedomhouse says the Korean government’s online content censorship has received substantial criticism from national and international freedom of expression organizations. In 2014, the Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC), an official body responsible for monitoring online content, requested that a total of 132,884 cases be rectified, which is a 27.3 percent increase over 2013. Specifically, 24,581 webpages were deleted, 97,095 were blocked, and 10,031 were cancelled at the request of the KCSC. This censorship not only covers pornography and gambling, activities which are illegal in South Korea, but also content deemed threatening to national security by “praising North Korea and denouncing the USA and the South Korean government.”
Freedom of expression should always be guaranteed in the media to let people know the domestic and global situation. Political independence and neutrality of the press will be the first step to innovate the Korean press and media.