Korea: A Literate Society Devours the News
S. Jim Kim
South Koreans get their news primarily from daily
newspapers. They depend on them also for news analyses. They supplement
them with television news from 9 to 10 in the evening. People listen
to radio news on their commute, stuck in their cars in hours-long
traffic jams, mornings and evenings.
papers and weekly and monthly magazines are used as entertainment
media, as is television.
country has 10 national dailies in scandalous wars of circulations
in the millions. In addition, 100 free dailies, 314 specialized
dailies, 1,999 weeklies, 2,319 monthlies, and 1,245 other periodicals
shriek headlines. All newspapers print 48-56 pages for advertising
state-owned KBS, private MBC, and SBS are national networks. Some
20 regional and cable networks serve special markets. TV stations
engage in intense and cutthroat competition, as do newspapers.
Washington Post once said Korea “opened the champagne bottle
too soon” when it boasted consumer-society extravagance during the
last Cold War-era Olympics, in Seoul in 1988. Yet Koreans are perplexed
by the question as to whether they can “afford to buy” print media.
The 47-million populace devours newspapers. Each household gets
two to three national dailies and one local paper, if they live
outside the capital, Seoul. The country has few rural hinterlands.
is a reading society, as are all Northeast Asian countries. Both
Koreas have virtually 100-percent literacy, owing to their 24-character
phonetic alphabet, Hangul.
media use far exceeds the UNESCO minima that separate “developed”
and “developing” nations. Every household has one or two TV sets.
Some 35 percent of families own two or three cellular phones as
a life necessity.
current North-South thaw has only added to the frenzy for the news.
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