This paper primarily focuses on the "fact-checking boom" in the Korean media industry and traces back to its origins. The number of media regularly fact-checking politicians’ claims, rumors, misinformation, and disinformation in South Korea is the second largest in Asia. This reveals that fact-checking has become one of the routinized methods of reporting style among the Korean media.
The sinking of the Sewol ferry, which occurred in April 2014 and was an event in which 299 passengers were victimized, was a turning point for a rapid increase in media distrust, as readers and viewers were misinformed by false reports, and reporters had committed human rights violations against the victims and their families. Faced with harsh criticism, JTBC, a TV station led by the most trusted liberal journalist, embarked on a regular fact-checking spot on its evening news program. The spot has fact-checked various politicians, policies, and rumors on the internet without taboo. As such, it has become a role model for other Korean media.
The SNU Fact Check Center, an institute at Seoul National University that is run by former reporters, is another norm entrepreneur that promotes fact-checking reports. Its position as an independent platform has contributed to cooperation both within the Korean media industry and with international organizations, such as The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). Two actors have played a significant role in this new journalism style taking root in Korea.
The Covid-19 pandemic presented a significant challenge, as there was no confirmed information about the virus and treatments among experts. Although the Korean media’s fact-checking reports have been much more cautious regarding facts, media consumers have demonstrated relative confidence in their reports. This can be viewed as a positive indication made by the Korean media for continuing its fact-checking attempts for about a decade.
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