South Korean lawmakers to vote on highly controversial Press Arbitration Bill

South Korean lawmakers will vote on controversial amendments to the nation’s Press Arbitration Law today. The amendments were previously delayed

Yonhap

Photo: Yonhap

South Korean lawmakers will vote on controversial amendments to the nation’s Press Arbitration Law today.

The amendments were previously delayed by the ruling Democratic Party (DP) in late August after facing backlash from the opposing Peoples Power Party (PPP) and Korean media outlets. The DP then agreed to hold further consultation with the PPP and the media to revise the bill.

The bill, backed by the ruling DP, would allow plaintiffs to seek punitive damages up to five times more than currently allowed if a media outlet is found guilty of running false or manipulated content.

The PPP, Korean media, Human Rights Watch and even some DP members say this bill is vague about what is considered “untrue” and would allow politicians to silence their critics. Korean media outlets have stated plans to file a constitutional lawsuit if the bill passes.

The bill is very likely to pass as the DP has the majority in the National Assembly. However, passage will likely result in protests and legal challenges from media organizations. This bill will erode press freedom throughout the country and stifle accountability. Similar laws in some European countries allowed politicians to sue journalists out of business with hefty fines.

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