South Korean voters have chosen six presidents since the country’s democratization in 1987. Unlike the United States, where newly elected presidents pass signature legislation thanks to a "honeymoon" with Congress, new South Korean presidents immediately face parliamentary obstructionism. Korea’s current president, Park Geun-hye, who recently completed her first year in office, has not been an exception. During the past year, the ruling and opposition parties did not even engage in genuine dialogue, much less reach substantial compromises in the National Assembly. The damage to national governance is all the more serious as Korean presidents may serve only a single, five-year term.
What explains this first year "jinx" for Korean presidents? While the causes include deficiencies in governmental and political institutions, 2013-2014 APARC Fellow Guem-nak Choe argues that a primary factor is the role played by Korean journalism. Himself a former senior journalist and the top public relations aide to the previous Korean president, Mr. Choe will compare Korean and American journalism and offer recommendations for Korean media reform.