South Korea also censors Internet
After China’s Internet censorship during the Olympic Games caused negative headlines, another Asian country is facing drastic sanctions in the free use of the Internet: As the Herald Tribune reports, the South Korean government under President Lee Myung Bak is planning a stricter control of web content. The government says the plan is to deal with the ever-increasing number of alleged false reports that lead to social unrest in the country.
One of the regulations is that forum and chat participants will in future have to register with their real name and no longer with pseudonyms. In addition, the Korean Communications Commission makes it compulsory for news portals to remove articles from the net for 30 days if they contain fraudulent or offensive passages. The amendment is due to be passed by the National Assembly in November.
But South Korea is not the only Asian country that offers its citizens and tourists only limited access to the Internet. At the moment, Japan is also planning to tighten its Internet law. A law is to be passed there by 2010 instructing Internet providers to report critical contributions to the government.
Reporters Without Borders (ROG) describes North Korea as the world’s largest black hole in the Internet. The country’s domain name “.nk” has still not been introduced and the few pages of the North Korean government are hosted on servers in Japan or South Korea.
Myanmar is also on the red list of the journalist organization. “The military junta clearly filters websites with opposition statements. The Internet cafes in particular are under close observation. Every five minutes, screenshots are taken there to monitor the user’s activities,” explains ROG. Another measure was to restrict Internet telephony and chats. “There were two reasons behind this intention: to defend the profitable telecommunications market for long-distance calls, which is under the control of state-owned companies, and to stop cyber dissidents whose means of communication are difficult to verify. However, the situation in Vietnam has improved. There the government has weakened control over news and information and is now taking less harsh action against “cyber dissidents”.
About South Korea
The Republic of Korea in East Asia includes the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and about 3,500 islands off the coast (about 200 inhabited). The total area of the state is 99 270 km². To the north, South Korea borders the Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea; divided since 1945) for a length of 238 km. In the southeast, the Korea Strait in the Sea of Japan separates the country from Japan; in the west, the Yellow Sea.
South Korea is predominantly mountainous. From the strongly indented west coast with a 50 to 100 km wide coastal strip, the country gradually rises before dropping steeply towards the Japanese Sea in the east. The mountains are divided by basin-landscapes. The main mountain range is the Taebaek-San Maek, which runs almost parallel to the east coast. The longest of the numerous rivers in South Korea is the Naktong with a total length of about 520 km, which flows into the Korean Road in the south of the country. The river Han in the northwest flows into the Yellow Sea, further rivers are e.g. Kum, Yongsan and Tongjin.
The highest elevation in South Korea is Halla-san (1 950 m) on the island of Cheju, about 100 km off the south coast of Korea. The capital Seoul is located in the northwest of South Korea.
South Korea is – based on the constitution of 1988 – a republic with a presidential system. The head of state is the president (President Park Geun-hye, since February 2013), who is elected by the people for a one-time term of five years. He appoints the members of the Council of Ministers and the Prime Minister as Head of Government (Chung Hong-won, since February 2013). The President is also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
The National Assembly (Kuk Hoe) has the legislative power with 300 deputies. 243 of them are elected in one-person constituencies, the remainder by proportional representation for four years by the people.
South Korea’s legal system combines European legal principles with traditional Chinese doctrine. The highest court of jurisdiction is the Seoul Court of Justice. The Republic of Korea is divided into nine provinces (do) and seven cities (gwangyoksi).
After the end of the Korean War in 1953, the Republic of Korea was an impoverished agricultural state. Today, the country is a modern industrial state and, in terms of gross national product, the number 15 of the leading trading nations. The Asian economic crisis at the end of 1997 caused the economy to suffer heavy losses and the country had to rely on international aid to escape national bankruptcy. Thanks to its consistent reform policy, however, the international financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009 did not have any serious effects.
Today, agriculture accounts for only about 3 % of the gross domestic product and employs 7 % of the workforce. Rice is cultivated on more than half of the agricultural land and corn, cereals, millet, pulses and potatoes are cultivated. The breeding of pigs, chickens and cattle determines livestock farming, fishing and fish farming play an important role.
South Korea has smaller deposits of hard coal and various ores, most of the raw materials processed by the industry have to be imported. South Korea’s industry is among the most developed in the world and today mainly produces automobiles, ships, chemical and electronic products, textiles and clothing. South Korean companies are also world leaders in the computer sector.
The largest buyer of South Korean products is now China, followed by the USA and Japan. When it comes to imports (including machinery, crude oil, raw materials, intermediate products such as automotive components), the same countries are the most important trading partners. Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange in South Korea.
South Korea has a very good transport network, which is being expanded even further. There are about 100,000 km of roads, of which over 3,000 km are motorways. The rail network is about 3 500 km long. The main ports in the country are Pusan, Ohang and Inchon. The international airport has been located on an island off Incheon, near Seoul, since 2001. The currency in South Korea is the South Korean won.