Insight: an overview of media and entertainment law in South Korea

All questions

In short

i is an overview of the Korean media and entertainment industry

The Korean publishing and entertainment industry has various branches, which include publishing and television.

Korean commercial broadcasting companies include terrestrial broadcasting, television broadcasting, Internet television provided by telecommunication manufacturers and satellite broadcasting. In the past, television broadcasters and TV broadcasters had a large share of the Korean advertising market, but this landscape is rapidly changing with the growth of online broadcasters.

In the printing industry, the newspaper industry is considered the largest and most important segment, although this market size is shrinking with the growth of visual media.

Finally, the Korean entertainment industry includes a variety of media, including movies, TV shows and music, and is currently thriving with the rise of K-pop and the growing interest in Korean movies and TV shows. At home, businesses focus on Korean games and webtoons (or ‘webtoons’).2 they have also seen great growth. The over-the-top (OTT) media market, led by global service providers such as Google’s YouTube and Netflix, is also growing rapidly in Korea. In addition, virtual reality and augmented reality services and Metaverse services are becoming increasingly popular in Korea.

ii Changes in recent markets and recent events Changes in the presidential administration

In May 2022, the former member of the Democratic Party of Korea President Moon Jae-in ended, and the former member of the People Power Party President Yoon Suk-yeol was installed. President Yoon will lead the Korean government for the next five years. In addition, after the presidential election and the local election that took place at the beginning of this year, the National Parliament began the second half of the four-year term in August 2022, with a change in the members of the Standing Committee. Due to such political changes, there have not been many policy changes this year. Although Yoon’s administration has announced several interesting media policies as part of President Yoon’s promise, it remains to be seen whether these policies will be implemented, as the opposition party still holds a majority in the National Assembly until May 2024.

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Market changes due to the covid-19 pandemic

Non-face-to-face content, including OTT, webcasts and games, has grown rapidly over the past two years since the onset of covid-19, and this growth is expected to continue in the medium to long term. However, as the public policy has been supporting since the second quarter of 2022, the growth of non-face-to-face products has slowed down or declined. On the other hand, the use of online resources such as movie theaters and theaters is slowly returning to pre-covid levels.

Environmental, social and governance management movement in entertainment

Recently, major entertainment companies such as SM, JYP and HYBE have been looking for environmental management, social responsibility and leadership. K-pop fans have long demonstrated collective action by donating on behalf of their favorite artists and creating forests to protect the environment, and this seems to have prompted the entertainment industry to join the bandwagon. In particular, since the habit of buying a lot of plastic albums to gain access to fan meetings was said to be one of the biggest causes of environmental damage, some organizations started to produce eco-friendly albums and digital albums. .

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Rules and regulations framework

In Korea, different types of media are governed by different laws and regulations.

and Newspapers

The Newspaper Promotion Act, etc. (Newspaper Act), administered by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), regulates newspapers. Among other things, the Newspaper Act regulates the business registration of newspaper companies and prohibits foreigners or foreign organizations from publishing newspapers in Korea.

In order to publish and distribute newspapers (including online newspapers), a business must complete registration with the relevant government. In addition, foreign newspaper businesses must establish and register a Korean office or branch.

The Newspaper Law prohibits the publication of newspapers by foreign governments, companies or organizations; companies or organizations whose representatives are foreigners; and companies or organizations whose parts or units are owned by foreigners or foreign organizations in excess. The Newspaper Act also prohibits the publication of online newspapers by foreigners.

ii Broadcast Communications

Broadcasting is regulated by the Broadcasting Act and the Internet Multimedia Broadcast Services Act, the latter of which governs businesses that broadcast information via the Internet. Both systems come under the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) and the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT). Among other things, these rules regulate broadcasting licenses and procedures.

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Broadcast operators must obtain a license from the KCC or obtain a license or approval from or register with MSIT.

Korean television broadcasters must self-rate their programs based on five factors that may be harmful to viewers (theme, violence, sex, speculative risk, and language) before airing the programs, and must display the rating throughout the program.

iii On the Internet

Although MSIT, KCC and MCST are planning to implement a new law on television, there has been no concrete development. However, a proposed amendment to the Telecommunications Business Act (TBA), which defines video services over the Internet, was proposed in May 2022, preventing the possibility that such legislation would be introduced soon. TBA is managed and managed by KCC and MSIT.

In general, under the TBA, value-added service providers (VSPs) must obtain permission from or submit a report to MSIT before starting work. Online media services require reporting to MSIT as VSPs.

iv Films

Films are regulated by the Promotion of Motion Pictures and Video Products Act. Among other things, the Act regulates the screening system and quotas for Korean films in movie theaters (the so-called screen quota system).

Movie theaters are required to show Korean movies at least 20 percent of each business day.


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