The Media and Economic Crisis in Korea circa 1993 to 2003

Lee, Bong-Soo. 2002. The Media and Economic Crisis in Korea circa 1993 to 2003. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis aims to investigate the relationship between the media and economic change in Korea. The main claim is that the press played an important role in creating the economic crisis. The Korean press's excessive swing to the right contributed remarkably to positioning neo-liberalism as the mainstream ideology of the society. In particular, their discourse practices for `Globalisation' accelerated the trend of `retreating state and expanding market'. They hampered rational public debates, distorted economic policies and ultimately led to the crisis.

The Korean press neglected to watch the problems of the chaebol (Korean conglomerates) and even encouraged the chaebol's over-investment. They failed to warn against the imminent currency crisis, partly due to their patriotic stance. By contrast, some influential members of the foreign press, particularly based on Wall Street, carried many critical reports reflecting the interests of international financial capitals. Their exaggerated reports enabled them to exert self-fulfilling effects. When the currency crisis arrived in Korea, both the domestic and foreign press played a considerable role in aggravating and transforming it into a chronic economic crisis, by supporting the IMF's mistaken prescriptions such as belt-tightening policies and selling companies abroad.

The Korean case suggests that when the media abandon their obligation as a warning system and offer misleading views on socio-economic realities, the public sphere can be damaged. In a severely damaged `public sphere', it was very difficult for many important decisions such as company decisions, government policies and IMF prescriptions to secure rationality. In short, the Korean case shows that the media can deform the public sphere and thereby have negative effects on the economy, contributing to a crisis. From this perspective, two traditions of media studies - the public sphere and media influence - can be combined. The existing studies on media influence tend to favour a rather limited model of influence. However, given that the deformation of public sphere is one form of media influence, the limitation of this model is clear.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Republic of Korea, media, economic change, journalism, public sphere

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

29 May 2020 11:29

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:29


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