Freedom of Expression in South Korea

Journal of Contemporary Asia (2014)

Posted: 5 Oct 2014

See all articles by Stephan M. Haggard

Stephan M. Haggard

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS)

Jong-sung You

The Australian National University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

South Korea is widely considered a consolidated democracy, but there is growing evidence that freedom of expression in South Korea has lagged behind that of comparable Asian countries and that it has deteriorated since 2008. Freedom House downgraded South Korea’s “freedom of the press” status from “free” to “partly free” in 2010 and other international reports also raised concerns on the status of freedom of expression in the country. We identify five problems that have contributed to the deterioration in South Korea’s rankings with respect to civil liberties: abuse of criminal defamation, the rules governing election campaigns, national security limitations on free speech, restrictions related to the internet and partisan use of state power to control the media. We close by considering possible explanations of the phenomenon, ranging from more distant cultural factors and the influence of the Japanese legal systems through the enduring impact of the Cold War. However, the main problems appear political. Governments on both the political right and left have placed limits on freedom of expression in order to contain political opposition, and constitutional, legal and political checks have proven insufficient to stop them.

Keywords: Democracy, civil liberties, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, South Korea

Suggested Citation

Haggard, Stephan M. and You, Jong-sung, Freedom of Expression in South Korea (2014). Journal of Contemporary Asia (2014), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2505590

Stephan M. Haggard

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States
858-534-5781 (Phone)
858-534-3939 (Fax)

Jong-sung You (Contact Author)

The Australian National University ( email )

Australia
+61 2 6125 7097 (Phone)

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