Statement from AAJA-Asia and the Seoul subchapter regarding the amendments to Korea’s Press Arbitration Act

The Asian American Journalists Association’s Asia Chapter (AAJA-Asia) and its Seoul subchapter — representing nearly 200 journalists across Asia and in Seoul — is paying close attention to the developments regarding South Korea’s Press Arbitration Act. We are concerned with the move to pass an amendment to the act that could threaten press freedoms laid out in South Korea’s constitution. 

The amendment states that its intention is to prevent the spread of fake news. If passed, media outlets could face fines of up to five times the financial damage claimed by those judged to have been harmed. Moreover, the definition of “fake news” is ambiguous, and could lead to abuses of interpretation that infringe on the freedom of the press. 

Such revisions are deeply worrying. AAJA-Asia urges lawmakers to refrain from passing the law without undergoing proper discussions with media organizations. 

AAJA-Asia values the freedom of the press in creating a democratic society. According to the 2021 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, South Korea has the highest level of press freedom among countries in Asia. This is a status that has not been achieved easily. The revisions to the Press Arbitration Act put this hard-won freedom and South Korea’s international image as an exemplary press environment at risk. 

AAJA-Asia stands with other media organizations and strongly urges lawmakers not to pass the amendment to the Press Arbitration Act. 

About AAJA-Asia 

The Asia chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) represents members across the Asia-Pacific region, including Seoul. It is a diverse, multi-ethnic community of local and international journalists and media professionals committed to supporting a vibrant press in the Asia-Pacific region. We are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in media organizations, providing training opportunities to members, supporting students interested in journalism and advocating for fair media access.

AAJA is a nonprofit educational and professional organization with more than 2,000 members across the U.S. and Asia.