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South Korea: Media System

Jae-won Lee


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South Korea, in its pan-national homogeneity across many fronts, has been a friendly and profitable market for the mass media industry. All South Koreans speak in just one common language of their own, and they all come from just one identical race. Hence they all share an identical heritage from their common history, ancient and modern. The literacy rate is extremely high at 99 percent. The literate and educated public, armed with affluence from the vibrant economy, handsomely supports a steady consumption of the traditional media as well as ready experimentation with the rapidly advancing new media. Though the press and other media in South Korea now enjoy a full range of freedom, they nevertheless retain a mixed bag of various legacies from Korea's turbulent modern history ( Lee 1982, 2003 ). During the last 100 years alone, South Korea changed from a five-century-old kingdom (1392–1910) to Japanese colonial rule (1910–1945), to US military government (1945–1948), to the beginning of an independent democratic state (1948), through the Korean War (1950–1953) to a military coup and successive military dictatorships (1961–1992), and to the beginning of civilian governments since 1993. While the present shape of the South Korean political system is an unmistakable democracy, it often exhibits the characteristics of “formal democracy,” where consolidation of democracy is still to ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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