[KS] Censorship in democratic Korea

J.Scott Burgeson jsburgeson at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 11 00:59:38 EDT 2004

--- Robert Armstrong <chonan99 at hotmail.com> wrote:
> I am a little surprised at Mr. Burgeson's comment:
> "It also seems that if you do not follow the
> government's new romanization 
> system online, you can even be fined!"
> I write a column for the Korea Times (Choson Through
> Western Eyes - 
> shameless plug, I know) and have noticed that the
> Korea Times intentionally 
> does not follow the government's romanization system
> - it seems to me that 
> if the Korean government was going to go after the
> small internet sites the 
> Korea Times would have been fined out of existence.

Sometimes I forget that this is an academic forum, and
that even throw-away jokes must be rigorously
constructed and properly referenced. So let me clarify
the statement I made above.

When the Ministry of Culture and Tourism introduced
its new romanization system back in 2000, it mandated
all state bodies update signs, publications and Web
sites to reflect the new system, and that after a
period of time, failure to do so would result in fines
or other penalities. This was reported in the local
media at the time.

Presumably, then, this would cover:

   1. Government-run Web sites
   2. Private Web-site designers contracted to build
government Web sites (of which there are many)
   3. Private Web sites operated with government

   From here things become murky, the line between
state and private not always so clear-cut. Would a
homepage operated by a foreign professor at a
state-run university here using a school server be
covered? Or an individual running a Web site who has
received grant funding from the ROK government? Or
even a Web site operated by the US 8th Army here which
may have indirectly received funding from the South
Korean government somehow?

   I don't know, which I why I said "can be" fined in
my original posting. In any case, the very vagueness
of the threats of fines has no doubt encouraged a
great many to comply with the system. Those seeking
clarification are encouraged to call the Ministry of
Culture and Tourism directly (which is just a short
stroll from the Korea Times, in fact).

   Hope this clarifies my joke!

   --Scott Bug

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