ISSN: 1550-7521

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The Public Right to Know: Government-Press Relations in South Korea and the Debate about Press Rooms

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In May 2007, when the Government Information Agency of South Korea announced the closing of the press rooms on government premises, it marked the end to a significant journalistic tradition. Until then, these press rooms had been integral to relations between the press and government, in that they allowed journalists to be posted full-time in the reporting facilities and in turn establish close relations with their government sources. President Roh argued that his new press policy was a reform that aimed to improve jour-nalistic quality, minimize collusion between journalists and their sources, and establish “clean but tense” press relations. Yet Korean reporters and international press organiza-tions criticized Roh for restricting press freedom and the public’s right to know. This arti-cle discusses the political and cultural context of this controversy, and considers the “Roh vs. Press” debate by analyzing public statements, news reports, interviews, and its key rhetorical elements.

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