South Korea’s president, Park Geun-hye, found herself in some hot water after a PC tablet belonging to Choi Soon-sil was uncovered by broadcasting company JTBC at an abandoned office of Choi’s. The tablet in question contained many files providing evidence that Choi had been privy to the president’s speeches, national security secrets and much more. Following this breach in privacy are accusations of Choi exploiting her relationship with the president for financial gain.

Choi and other linked figures, both those who work government jobs and those involved in other industries, have been arrested and are currently undergoing investigation from prosecution. Park Geun-hye reshuffled her Cabinet in an attempt to pacify the public’s anger and regain trust, but was met with even greater fury from the nation as more evidence supporting claims of corruption continued to come to light.

Within 24 hours of the story breaking, “Park Geun-hye impeachment” and “resignation” dominated searches on Korea’s major portal sites. Soon after, foreign news organisations caught wind of the story and began coverage as well.

The Korea Times

  • In contrast to some of the other news outlets also frantically covering every update in the Choi-gate scandal, the Korea Times began it’s coverage of the political scandal in defense of the president.
  • The day after the scandal had erupted, a photograph titled “In defense of President” captured the ruling Saenuri Party Chairman Lee Jung-hyun amidst a crowd of reporters. The open-ended title allows readers to weigh the idea that the president still has supporters. The caption of the photo quotes Lee as saying, “I also sometimes show the drafts of my speeches to my friends to seek their opinion,” in defense of the president. By showing someone else likening himself to the president and normalising the allegations, Korea Times portrays Park as relatable and tones down the gravity of the situation.
  • However, the newspaper took a dramatic shift in opinion within the span of two weeks as an article released today spotlighted Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, as both the popular and the right choice for South Korea’s next president. In an attempt to support this opinion, Korea Times mentions a Forbes magazine article also echoing the sentiment that Ban would be a good president. The positive light this article depicts Ban in shows Korea Times no longer believes the president requires defense, but that she what she needs is a replacement.

BBC News

  • Currently championing the title of “world’s largest news broadcast organisation”, BBC News has also been providing updates on South Korea’s political situation.
  • A news story was published today in light of recent updates of South Korean prosecution now officially probing Samsung Electronics. The title and first paragraph are bolded and straight to the point, while following paragraphs provide impartial background information to the political scandal – probably in consideration of the foreign audience that the BBC caters to. Three photographs are featured in the article: a photograph representing Samsung, an image of Choi Soon-sil and a picture of President Park Geun-hye. The first photograph carries no description but the second and third are captioned in a way that emphasises a more dramatic aspect of this scandal, highlighting the mysterious relationship between Choi and Park and the quasi-religious background connecting the two. Nothing draws attention like a good cult story, right?

The Guardian

  • Though The Guardian began coverage of the political crisis half a week after the news had broken in South Korea, it currently covers the Choi-gate scandal in length and in consistency with the updates.
  • In comparison to some other major foreign news organisations, the Guardian shows more commitment to covering the political scandal in detail. This is explained by the briefing the newspaper had published a week ago, as it not only explains the current mess in South Korea and the key players involved, but also brings up questions about the implications of this situation outside of South Korea. The Guardian believes that the scandal will be “causing concern in the US and Japan” in the face of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
  • A more recent report shares the South Korean president bore a stunning defeat when protests from opposing political parties forced Park to withdraw her nomination for prime minister. Like the Korea Times and many other Korean news outlets, the Guardian seems to be predicting a bleak end to Park’s struggles to retain power. In contrast to the Korea Times, however, the Guardian raises the question of “to what extent” will the president be forced to forfeit her authority. This could be interpreted as prediction that Park will keep her title as president, which is a stark difference to what the general Korean public is currently pushing for.
  • It’s interesting to note that both the briefing and the report link back multiple times to related articles also published by the Guardian. The Guardian currently sits comfortably within the top5 of a net readership number ranking, a feat that couldn’t have been achieved without prioritising traffic within their online news website.


  • Depending on whether or not prosecution unearths more evidence against Choi Soon-sil and Park Geun-hye, public opinion of both could either fall further or improve. Developments will influence future newspaper diction and angles.
  • The hit to Park Geun-hye’s reputation could seriously affect South Korea’s respectability in its relationships with other countries. A particular concern is the United States, as a change in leadership will soon demand South Korea’s effort in creating new bonds or protecting existing ones.
  • Foreign news outlets could possibly make further novelty out of Choi Soon-sil’s “cult” background, as the tags and keywords can easily enough provide clickbait titles.

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