Vetting Candidates in Korean Elections: Traditional Media and the Rise of Social Media

Philippines Conference Room
South Korea ranks second globally in smart phone ownership, and among larger countries its Internet penetration rate ties Germany for second place. It is thus not surprising that social networking services (SNS) have been playing an ever-increasing role in South Korean life, including electoral politics. The hope was that SNS would enable citizens to make more informed choices about the candidates and thereby strengthen democracy and governance, but the most recent presidential election campaign witnessed an unprecedented proliferation of rumors and slander against all the candidates due in significant measure to the rise SNS. Meanwhile, traditional media outlets have not done a good job of inspecting candidates on behalf of the electorate. Mr. Sungchul Hong, a visiting scholar in the Stanford Korean Studies Program and a senior journalist with Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), will examine these developments and their implications for Korean democracy, and offer recommendations for improving the media’s performance in the responsible vetting of candidates.