Censorship in South Korea is limited by laws that provide for freedom of speech and the press which the government generally respects in practice. Under the National Security Act, the government may limit the expression of ideas that praise or incite the activities of anti-state individuals or groups.
However, since the inauguration of President Lee Myung-bak in 2008, South Korea has experienced a noticeable decline in freedom of expression for both journalists and the general public. South Korea's status in the 2011 Freedom of the Press report from Freedom House declined from "Free" to "Partly Free" reflecting an increase in official censorship and government attempts to influence news and information content.
South Korea's government has had a hand in censorship of media within the country since it adopted the National Security Act in 1948. The law gave the government broad control over media in order to prevent any information deemed to be a threat to the government from dissemination to the public at large. The newly established Republic of Korea government created the law in response to widespread unrest due to conflict between the right-wing anti-communist government and far-left People's Committee. Originally, the law was enacted in opposition to specific North Korean forces, but it was later expanded to encapsulate any "anti-state" group seen as against the views of the government. Importantly, the law allows the government to punish anyone who would "praise, encourage, disseminate or cooperate" with the efforts of a group deemed to be "anti-state" with up to 7 years in prison. In addition, directly working with one of these groups results in a minimum jail sentence of one year.
After Park Chung-hee's military coup and subsequent rise to power in 1961, his regime invalidated the Constitution as well as the democratically elected legislature. Park used the implied threat of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to imprison and torture political enemies. His regime targeted artists and politicians alike, jailing leaders who would later hold the office as president as well as writers such as Kim Chi-ha.
In addition, the Park regime ran a large campaign of film censorship. Scripts required approval by censor committees, and several viewings of the final version of the film were required to ensure that it represented the previously approved script. Eliminating themes of rebellion, protest were the main focus of the censors. The censors also targeted any accurate depiction of the political or socio-economic climate.
After Chun Doo-hwan assumed power in another military coup, he too declared martial law in response to widespread uprisings among the country's students. He also took aim at South Korea's press, systematically sacking 937 members of the press while nationalizing the country's media outlets. Due to foreign and domestic condemnation of Chun's policies and actions, a new Constitution was formed which guaranteed the freedom to organize into opposition parties. Although the political climate liberalized slightly with the new Constitution, the regime continued to target perceived threats from North Korea with the powers granted by the National Security Law.
During the early presidency of Roh Tae-woo, student uprisings continued to fester in South Korea. The protests specifically targeted the government's use of the National Security Act under the pretenses of curtailing North Korean influence in South Korean media.
The dawn of the nineties brought about movements pushing for greater democracy and unification efforts for the Korean peninsula. These forces sought to abolish the use of the National Security Law. However, in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, student and worker protests against unemployment erupted. Once more, the government suppressed these demonstrations under the auspices of the National Security Law.
There is an active independent media that expresses a wide variety of views, generally without restriction. Under the National Security Law, the government may limit the expression of ideas that praise or incite the activities of antistate individuals or groups. The law forbids citizens from reading books published in North Korea.
On March 21, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression issued a report on his May 2010 visit to South Korea. While laudatory of progress made, the report also expressed concern about increased restrictions on freedom of expression and specifically cited as concerns laws broadly making defamation a crime (which the rapporteur labeled as “…inherently harsh and [having a] disproportionate chilling effect…”) and providing the potential for controlling the dissemination of election or candidate information and banning books.
Pornographic websites, books, writings, films, magazines, photographs or other materials of a pornographic nature are illegal in South Korea, although the law is not regularly enforced. Distribution of pornography can result in a fine or a two-year prison sentence. Since 2009, pornographic websites have been blocked by the South Korean government. In 2012 the Ministry of Public Administration and Security released statistics that cited 39.5% of South Korean children having experienced watching online pornography, with 14.2% of those who have viewed online pornography reportedly "wanting to imitate" it.
South Korea's public libraries censor a plethora of subjects in their libraries - both online and in their physical collections. Examples of censored topics include: sexuality (including educational information about the subject), homosexuality, information about North Korea, violence, anti-government materials, and political discourse.
The public libraries of South Korea also censor information via discriminating against who can use the library's public meeting spaces. If a person or group wants to use the space to meet to discuss any of the forbidden topics listed above, they are refused.
The Constitutional Court of Korea upheld the Ministry of National Defense's order to allow the banning of certain books such as Ha-Joon Chang's Bad Samaritans and Hans-Peter Martin's The Global Trap from soldiers' hands on October 2010, despite a petition made by a group of military judicial officers protesting against the order in 2008.
The South Korean military cracked down on soldiers who have "critical apps" installed in their smartphones; allegedly marking a popular South Korean podcast, Naneun Ggomsuda, as anti-government content.
The nation of South Korea is a world leader in Internet and broadband penetration, but its citizens do not have access to free and unfiltered Internet. South Korea's government maintains a broad-ranging approach toward the regulation of specific online content and imposes a substantial level of censorship on election-related discourse and on a large number of websites that the government deems subversive or socially harmful. Such policies are particularly pronounced with regard to anonymity on the Internet.
In 2011 the OpenNet Initiative classified Internet censorship in South Korea as pervasive in the conflict/security area, as selective in the social area, and found no evidence of filtering in the political or Internet tools areas. In 2011 South Korea was included on Reporters Without Borders list of countries Under Surveillance. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has criticized the Korea Communications Standards Commission for proposing censorship of the blog of an internet free speech activist.
In September 2004, North Korea launched the Kim Il-sung Open University website. Also, South Korea has banned at least 31 sites considered sympathetic to North Korea through the use of IP blocking. A man who praised North Korea on Twitter was arrested.
In 2007, numerous bloggers were censored, arrested, and their posts deleted by police for expressing criticism of, or even support for, certain presidential candidates. Subsequently, in 2008, just before a new presidential election, new legislation that required all major internet portal sites to require identity verification of their users was put into effect. 51 year old South Korean novelist was arrested for praising North Korea on personal blog in 2012. 5 South Koreans were arrested for distributing pro-North material online in 2008 and 83 in 2011. In 2011 a South Korean was arrested for posting 300 messages and 6 videos of pro-North content and sentenced for 10 months in jail. In January 2012 a South Korean freedom-of-speech activist was arrested for retweeting a tweet from North Korean account. 53 year old South Korean blogger was arrested for demanding abolishment of anti-communist National Security Law and has praised North Korea, he was sentenced to prison for one year.
"Indecent" websites, such as those offering unrated games, any kind of pornography (not only child pornography), and gambling, are also blocked. Attempts to access these sites are automatically redirected to the warning page showing "This site is legally blocked by the government regulations." Search engines are required to verify age for some keywords deemed "inappropriate" for minors.
In November 2010, a woman was sentenced to two years in prison for the possession of MP3s of instrumental music, on the grounds that the titles constituted praise of North Korea, notwithstanding the actual music's lack of lyrics.
Songs that "stimulates sex desire or [are] sexually explicit to youth", "urges violence or crime to youth", or "glamorizes violence such as rape, and drugs" are classified as a "medium offensive to youth" by the Government Youth Commission.
The Korea Communications Commission is a government agency that regulates TV, radio, and the Internet within South Korea. The National Security Law forbids citizens from listening to North Korean radio programs in their homes if the government determines that the action endangers national security or the basic order of democracy. These prohibitions are rarely enforced and viewing North Korean satellite telecasts in private homes is legal.
The Lee Myung-bak government has been accused of extending its influence over the broadcast media by appointing former presidential aides and advisers to key positions at major media companies over the objections of journalists who sought to maintain those broadcasters’ editorial independence. Under the Lee administration, approximately 160 journalists have been penalized for writing critical reports about government policies.
Protests among workers in Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, Korean Broadcasting System, and YTN in early 2012 have raised concerns about the biased pro-Lee Myung-bak government media practices, such as the ongoing usage of censorship, to the South Korean public.
Censorship of Japanese media in South Korea has been relaxed significantly since the 1990s, but as of 2012 the terrestrial broadcast of Japanese television or music remains illegal.
Film censorship in South Korea can be split into two major periods, the period of dictatorships and the period of heavy surveillance by the new military regime.
In recent years, sexual scenes have been a major issue that pits filmmakers against the Korea Media Rating Board. Pubic hair and male or female genitalia are disallowed on the screen, unless they are digitally blurred. In rare cases extreme violence, obscene language, or certain portrayals of drug use may also be an issue. Korea has a five level rating systems; G (all), PG-12 (12-year+), PG-15 (15-year+), R-18 (18-year+), and Restricted.
Balloon propaganda campaigns in Korea include both North and South Korean propaganda leaflet campaigns through the use of balloons as a distribution method since the Korean War. A variety of other contents have also been included with the balloons. Originally, these campaigns were organized by the governments and militaries of the Korean states. Contemporarily, however, they are mainly organized by South Korean non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that regularly involve themselves in balloon release events that aim to send materials censored in North Korea, as well as various other goods, to the North Korean people.The main motivations of the South Korean balloon campaigns have been a desire to support democratization and to incite a regime change in North Korea. However, the effectiveness of such leaflet campaigning has been debated. Furthermore, the balloon drops may have worsened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and the launches have also been met with increasing opposition from the South Korean society. The North Korean state has targeted propaganda to South Koreans soldiers on the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in retaliation against Southern propaganda campaigns.
The official stance of both the South and North Korean governments has been against the continuing balloon drops. However, the South Korean government has been hesitant to intervene in the launches by activists due to concerns about freedom of expression. However, some actions by officials, like banning the use of boats in balloon launches, have greatly reduced the amount of leaflets flying into North Korea. In recent years, there have been few cases of official leaflet droppings by either state. However, government organized psychological warfare between the Korean states largely disappeared in the aftermath of the Sunshine Policy, regardless of renewed tensions since.Censorship in Korea
Censorship in Korea may refer to:
Censorship in South Korea
Censorship in North KoreaCensorship of Japanese media in South Korea
Censorship of Japanese media in South Korea refers to laws created by the government of South Korea to prevent the import and distribution of media from Japan. These laws were a reaction to the decades-long Japanese occupation of Korea. As a result, Koreans had no legal access to Japanese media at all until the 1990s. As of 2018, there are still several laws restricting broadcasting of Japanese media in South Korea.Copyright law of South Korea
Copyright law of South Korea is regulated by the Copyright Act of 1957. It has been amended several times, with a recent 2009 revision introducing a three strikes policy for online copyright infringement.Cyber Terror Response Center
Cyber Terror Response Center (abbr. CTRC, also from 2007 known as NETAN, from net+an, an meaning safety in Korean language) is a cybercrime section of the Korean National Police Agency in South Korea.The Center was established in 2000, from the Computer Crime Investigation Squad (itself established in 1997). It is headquartered in the KNPA main building.Film censorship in South Korea
Like most other developed countries, South Korea’s film industry has had a great influence on the public. As films can affect the public with their great popularity and their vivid audio-visual effect, it has such influence that alarms the government to place strict regulations which the films must follow in order to be viewed by the public. This control on the film industry and filmmakers resulted in film censorship. The censorship often changed depends on the government's attitude toward the social structure and films. Thus, the filmmakers could not criticize the government in any aspect, instead, they could only promote and support the government. Consequently, the filmmakers were not allowed to freely express their creativity as well as their ideas and thoughts, and these restrictions lead to the decline of the film industry. There are 2 major time periods where film censorship strongly impacted on the growth of the film industry in South Korea, namely, the period during Colonial Korea which was under Japanese Rule (Japanese occupation) and the period when the film industry were under heavily surveillance from the new military regime.Freedom of the press in South Korea
South Korea is considered to have freedom of the press, but it is subject to several pressures. It has improved since South Korea transitioned to democracy in the late 20th century, but declined slightly in the 2010s. Freedom House Freedom of the Press has classified South Korean press as free from 2002 to 2010, and as partly free since 2011.Game Rating and Administration Committee
The Game Rating and Administration Committee (Hangul: 게임물관리위원회; RR: Geimmul Gwalli-Wiwonhoe; GRAC) is the South Korean video game content rating board. A governmental organization, the GRAC rates video games to inform customers of the nature of game contents.
Initially, the Korea Media Rating Board, a governmental organization, rated video games just like other entertainment media. However, a controversy occurred because the Korea Media Rating Board rated an arcade gambling game Sea Story as if it were suitable for everyone, with allegations of misconduct. The Korean government responded to the controversy by creating the GRB in 2006 and making it the only rating organization for rating video games in South Korea.The GRAC has been criticized as one of the elements of the Internet censorship in South Korea.Internet censorship in South Korea
Internet censorship in South Korea is similar to other developed countries but contains some unique elements such as the blocking of pro-North Korea websites, which led to it being categorized as "pervasive" in the conflict/security area by OpenNet Initiative. It is also unique among developed countries to block pornography and material considered harmful to minors as they are illegal by law. However, this law is very loosely applied with many pornography websites and nudity content still freely accessible. It also does not apply to social media websites, which is a common source of "legal" pornography in South Korea.Internet in South Korea
About 45 million people in South Korea (or 92.4% of the population) use the Internet. The country has the world's fastest average internet connection speed. South Korea has consistently ranked first in the UN ICT Development Index since the index's launch. The government established policies and programs that facilitated the rapid expansion and use of broadband.Korea Communications Commission
Korea Communications Commission (Hangul: 대한민국 방송통신위원회; Hanja: 大韓民國 放送通信委員會; RR: Daehanminguk Bangsongtongsin Wiwonhoe) is a South Korean media regulation agency modeled after the Federal Communications Commission of the United States of America. It was established on February 29, 2008, combining the former Korean Broadcasting Commission and the Ministry of Information and Communication. The five members of the Commissioners make a decision. The current Chairman, among the five Commissioners, is Choi Sung-joon.Korea Communications Standards Commission
The Korea Communications Standards Commission (Hangul: 방송통신심의위원회; Hanja: 放送通信審議委員會; RR: Bangsongtongsinsimui Wiwonhoe) is South Korea's Internet censorship body.The KCSC replaced an earlier body, the Information and Communication Ethics Committee.On September 2011, the KCSC has decided to open up its three discussion committees to the public.The KCSC has required Korean citizens to enter government issued ID numbers in order to post political comments online.Korean history textbook controversies
Korean textbook controversy refers to controversial content in government-approved history textbooks used in the secondary education (high schools) in South Korea. The controversies primarily concern portrayal of North Korea and the description of the regime of the South Korean president and dictator Park Chung-hee.List of K-pop music videos banned by South Korean television networks
The following is a non-exhaustive list of K-pop videos that have been banned by one or more South Korean television networks, for reasons such as suggestive or offensive lyrics and imagery.
K-pop is a genre of modern pop music that originates from South Korea. It is characterized by a wide variety of audiovisual elements, and K-pop singles will typically include a music video and a dance routine. There is a history of media censorship and conservatism in South Korea, and as a result, many risque or explicit K-pop songs or videos have been banned by South Korean broadcasting stations. Other reasons for banning include having Japanese lyrics, negatively influencing youth, or use of brand names.
KBS, MBC, and SBS are the three largest broadcasting and television networks, and they account for the vast majority of banned K-pop videos. As of September 2012, these networks had banned over 1,300 K-pop songs in the past three years alone. This list only includes titular k-pop songs that have an accompanying music video, but many K-pop songs that were not title tracks have been banned as well.List of North Korean websites banned in South Korea
As of 2010, there are 65 North Korean-run and pro-North Korean websites blocked in South Korea, a country that practices substantial Internet censorship of diverse content. A test conducted by OpenNet Initiative in 2010 found that most websites blocked in South Korea are related to North Korea. The number of blocked North Korean sites has increased in recent years.Blocking is based on the National Security Act, and coordinated by the Korea Communications Standards Commission, which also engages in Internet surveillance. The commission is nominally independent but mainly appointed by the government. The blocks are implemented by Internet service providers (ISPs). South Korean law imposes punishments up to seven years of imprisonment for attempting to access blocked sites. According to Reporters Without Borders, blocking of North Korean websites is not viewed favorably by South Korean Internet users and some know how to circumvent it. Internet Archive's Wayback Machine and web caches of search engines are not blocked and include copies of North Korean websites.In 2005, up to 3,167 webpages unrelated to North Korea were found to be blocked due to blocking IPs at the router level. DNS tampering that prevents domain names to be resolved into correct IPs is also used.In addition to entire websites, it is possible to block accounts on social media, and some 13 accounts have been blocked on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, including Uriminzokkiri's Twitter account. Twitter, however, has proven impractical to censor because retweets of North Korean tweets by other users are not blocked. Furthermore, any links to North Korean websites in the tweets are already blocked. Individual contents of websites hosted in South Korea may also be deleted. In 2010, South Korean website administrators were forced to delete 80,499 pro-North Korea messages.Blocking has increased from previous years. According to Reporters Without Borders, blocking sharply intensified during Lee Myung-bak's presidency. In OpenNet Initiative's 2006 test, the overwhelming majority of tested North Korean websites were blocked. In 2007 and 2008, a significant number of tested North Korean sites remained blocked and blocking was consistent among Internet service providers.OpenNet (organization)
Open Net (Korean: 오픈넷) is a non-governmental organization which aims for the freedom and openness of South Korea's internet. It was approved by Seoul Radiowave Management Office (Korean: 서울전파관리소) on 7 March 2013.Radio jamming in Korea
Radio jamming on the Korean Peninsula makes the border region one of the world's busiest places for radio signals. Medium wave jamming is dominant in the area including Seoul and the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). South Korea jams all radio and television broadcasts from North Korea, and until 2013 jammed all foreign broadcasts, which was ended during the Park Geun-hye administration.
North Korea jams South Korean state broadcasts and foreign shortwave broadcast services which it believes to be against the North Korean regime. These include the Korean language service of the Voice of America, Free North Korea Radio (which originates from US transmitters in Guam), Radio Free Asia, and several other services and broadcasts.Smart Sheriff
Smart Sheriff (Korean: 스마트보안관) is a South Korean parental monitoring mobile app, introduced in 2015. It was developed by Korean app maker MOIBA, and is distributed free, sponsored by the South Korean government, which supported its development. The Korean government required its installation on the smart phones of all users who are under 19 years old, and the app allows the children's parents or guardians to monitor their online activity and block access to various websites. The regulation, passed by the Korea Communications Commission, required compliance from both telecom companies and the public. There was no opt-out provision, the telecom operators have to ensure its installation on all new phones sold to those under 19 years of age and failure to install the app rendered the phone unable to operate.While the government maintained the app is intended to protect minors from harmful content, the app has been criticized for its invasion of privacy. It has a built-in key logger that will alert parents when children use words from a blacklist, such as rape, kill, pregnancy, suicide, or bully. It also monitors the user's location, usage time, what apps they use (giving the parents remote ability to uninstall them or power down the phone) and what websites they visit. The app has been called spyware by The Register and "a general-purpose spyware juggernaut" by Infosecurity Magazine. Further, critics have pointed out that the app is only available for Android devices, leaving a loophole for users of other platforms, such as Apple iOS. The app also does not work with older Android phones.An activist organization, Open Net Korea, has called the app the equivalent of installing surveillance cameras in teenagers's phones, without public consultation, and is challenging the regulation in court. There are concerns that introduction of the app for teenagers is only the first step, preparing the ground for introduction of a similar app for adults.By June 2015 the app had been downloaded about 500,000 times.It is the first parental control app that has been made a legally required, obligatory install in any country.In early November 2015 reports of serious security holes has caused the Korean government to withdraw its support for the app and instead suggest using alternative services.Tatsuya Kato (journalist)
Tatsuya Kato (加藤 達也, Katō Tatsuya, born 1966) is a Japanese journalist who was a Seoul Bureau chief of South Korea at Sankei Shimbun.
He was indicted in October 2014 on charges of defamation for reporting the relationship of President Park Geun-hye and Choi Soon-sil's husband, Chung Yoon-hoi, by the Supreme Prosecutors' Office of the Republic of Korea after the MV Sewol sank. He has been acquitted in December 2015 in what has been described as a small victory for freedom of the press in South Korea .
Censorship in Asia