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Nam Center for Korean Studies pres.

Nam Center Colloquium Series | Calling Pyongyang: Changes in Journalistic Approaches to North Korea since 2000

Soomin Seo, Assistant Professor, Klein College of Media and Communication, Temple University

Abstract: South Korea had a Watergate moment in 2016, when a corruption scandal led to an impeachment of the president. Two media outlets in particular, the progressive Hankyoreh and JTBC, a TV station with roots in Samsung, first broke and then sensationalized the scandal that motivated the candlelight protests. Building on research about national media systems and sociology of news work, this article critically examines the news media and journalistic culture to derive three main findings. First, the democracy movement of the 1980s provided institutional and cultural foundations. Second, commercial desires facilitated higher-quality journalism, rather than undermining it. The economic liberalization and the precarity of the economy as a whole influenced both the media industry at large and the specific business strategies that motivated JTBC. Third, there is an Americanization of journalistic norms and culture. While the two outlets were outnumbered by better-funded pro-government outlets, the duo ultimate Abstract: South Korea had a Watergate moment in 2016, when a corruption scandal led to an impeachment of the president. Two media outlets in particular, the progressive Hankyoreh and JTBC, a TV station with roots in Samsung, first broke and then sensationalized the scandal that motivated the candlelight protests. Building on research about national media systems and sociology of news work, this article critically examines the news media and journalistic culture to derive three main findings. First, the democracy movement of the 1980s provided institutional and cultural foundations. Second, commercial desires facilitated higher-quality journalism, rather than undermining it. The economic liberalization and the precarity of the economy as a whole influenced both the media industry at large and the specific business strategies that motivated JTBC. Third, there is an Americanization of journalistic norms and culture. While the two outlets were outnumbered by better-funded pro-government outlets, the duo ultimate
Abstract: South Korea had a Watergate moment in 2016, when a corruption scandal led to an impeachment of the president. Two media outlets in particular, the progressive Hankyoreh and JTBC, a TV station with roots in Samsung, first broke and then sensationalized the scandal that motivated the candlelight protests. Building on research about national media systems and sociology of news work, this article critically examines the news media and journalistic culture to derive three main findings. First, the democracy movement of the 1980s provided institutional and cultural foundations. Second, commercial desires facilitated higher-quality journalism, rather than undermining it. The economic liberalization and the precarity of the economy as a whole influenced both the media industry at large and the specific business strategies that motivated JTBC. Third, there is an Americanization of journalistic norms and culture. While the two outlets were outnumbered by better-funded pro-government outlets, the duo ultimate
How does news get made when it comes to North Korea, one of the least accessible regimes in the world? My talk traces changes in the production of news over the past two decades. First, there are more eyes on the ground, with higher numbers of journalists, diplomats, and tourists in the country. Second, the explosive growth in the number of North Korean defectors has had a mixed impact on journalism. While the defectors’ testimonies added context, they also led to an increase in sensationalistic coverage with unverified reports of human rights abuses. Third, the 2009 introduction of cellular phones to the North Korean population has made it much easier for reporters to communicate directly with North Koreans. Taken together, the changes not only show a shift in journalistic norms, but also hint at a fundamental shift of the Pyongyang regime towards more openness.

Soomin Seo is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and a member of the Media and Communication Doctoral Program at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA. She received her PhD in communications at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and studied public policy at Harvard University. Her work has appeared in publications such as Journalism Studies and Columbia Journalism Review. She is also a former journalist who worked for international news outlets.
Abstract: South Korea had a Watergate moment in 2016, when a corruption scandal led to an impeachment of the president. Two media outlets in particular, the progressive Hankyoreh and JTBC, a TV station with roots in Samsung, first broke and then sensationalized the scandal that motivated the candlelight protests. Building on research about national media systems and sociology of news work, this article critically examines the news media and journalistic culture to derive three main findings. First, the democracy movement of the 1980s provided institutional and cultural foundations. Second, commercial desires facilitated higher-quality journalism, rather than undermining it. The economic liberalization and the precarity of the economy as a whole influenced both the media industry at large and the specific business strategies that motivated JTBC. Third, there is an Americanization of journalistic norms and culture. While the two outlets were outnumbered by better-funded pro-government outlets, the duo ultimate Abstract: South Korea had a Watergate moment in 2016, when a corruption scandal led to an impeachment of the president. Two media outlets in particular, the progressive Hankyoreh and JTBC, a TV station with roots in Samsung, first broke and then sensationalized the scandal that motivated the candlelight protests. Building on research about national media systems and sociology of news work, this article critically examines the news media and journalistic culture to derive three main findings. First, the democracy movement of the 1980s provided institutional and cultural foundations. Second, commercial desires facilitated higher-quality journalism, rather than undermining it. The economic liberalization and the precarity of the economy as a whole influenced both the media industry at large and the specific business strategies that motivated JTBC. Third, there is an Americanization of journalistic norms and culture. While the two outlets were outnumbered by better-funded pro-government outlets, the duo ultimate
Abstract: South Korea had a Watergate moment in 2016, when a corruption scandal led to an impeachment of the president. Two media outlets in particular, the progressive Hankyoreh and JTBC, a TV station with roots in Samsung, first broke and then sensationalized the scandal that motivated the candlelight protests. Building on research about national media systems and sociology of news work, this article critically examines the news media and journalistic culture to derive three main findings. First, the democracy movement of the 1980s provided institutional and cultural foundations. Second, commercial desires facilitated higher-quality journalism, rather than undermining it. The economic liberalization and the precarity of the economy as a whole influenced both the media industry at large and the specific business strategies that motivated JTBC. Third, there is an Americanization of journalistic norms and culture. While the two outlets were outnumbered by better-funded pro-government outlets, the duo ultimate

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