Besides the adoption, in July 2005, of a new law containing repressive articles that impose “social responsibility” on the media, Roh Moo-hyun’s government carried out no major offensive against the press.
Accused of every ill by supporters of the president, the conservative press, represented by the three dailies Chosun Ilbo, Dong-a Ilbo and JoongAng Ilbo, were particularly targeted by the new press law. Forced to set up internal “publication committees” of salaried staff and to reform their sales arrangements, these papers continue to more or less dominate the market.
In July the TV station MBC revealed the existence of secret phone tapping during the 1990s, including of journalists. But the author of the scoop, Lee Sang-ho, found himself summoned by the prosecutor’s office for violating the privacy of those whose phones were tapped by the secret services.
The case did however confirm that the secret services regularly mount surveillance on journalists. In August, the management of the daily MoonHwa Ilbo complained that its journalists’ phones were being tapped after it published an investigation into corruption within a department of the secret services.
Finally, the law on national security still allows the government to censor publications and block access to websites deemed favourable to North Korea.
S Korea report 2006 Korean