Distinct improvement after a bad decade
The election of Moon Jae-in, a human rights activist and former political prisoner, as president in 2017 has been a breath of fresh air after a bad decade in which South Korea fell more than 30 places in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index. The South Korean media showed their grit in the course of the battle they waged with President Park Geun-hye in 2016, and finally won when she was impeached for corruption and removed. The Moon administration managed to end the decade-old conflict at the public broadcasters MBC, KBS and YTN, where journalists objected to having bosses foisted on them by the government. Nonetheless, structural problems remain. The system of appointing managers at the public broadcasters needs to be revised in order to guarantee their independence. Defamation is still theoretically punishable by seven years in prison and needs to be decriminalised. And South Korea needs to repeal laws that, on national security grounds, provide for extremely severe penalties for the dissemination of sensitive information, especially if it involves North Korea.
42 in 2020
23.70 in 2020