News consumption in South Korea - Facts and Statistics

Within the last century, South Korea has seen foreign occupation, war, division, corrupt leaders, and authoritarian regimes, meaning South Korean society is no stranger to media censorship. The country still has a hard time fully trusting news: in a survey Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism asked adults in 37 countries worldwide whether they trusted news media of the time – South Korea ranked last with only 22 percent of surveyed trusting news media outlets fully.

Discussions all around the world are focusing on how to handle so-called fake news on social media. South Korea has a very high internet usage rate as well as a high usage of social media, but users remain critical when it comes to news on social platforms, with only 20 percent reporting to trust those. Almost 85 percent of respondents in a survey stated that they were aware of fake news, while around 59 percent reported they would fact-check fake news. Over the past five years, trust in news tended to decrease. Nevertheless, around 32 percent agree or somewhat agree that social media platforms the best and most accurate sources of news and information.

So how do South Koreans obtain news? Around 79 percent watch news either live or watch as a stream later. News are predominantly accessed online and via smartphone. Especially older generations watch news on YouTube. The most trusted traditional news brand as of 2019 was JTBC News. South Koreans tend to trust people they know in person, while they tend to be suspicious of people they got to know on the internet.

Following years of censorship, South Koreans do not seem to have lost their suspicion towards news media. After various scandals and with the prevalence of fake news, trust is undeniably declining. Worth mentioning is the National Security Act, that limits the expression of pro-North Korean or pro-communist ideas in order to maintain peace. Since the law can be interpreted broadly, some say that it would be restricting the freedom of press in the country.

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News consumption in South Korea

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Social media as news source

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