Korean media has come a long way since bursting out of the dictatorial straitjacket of the 1970s and 1980s, but most of it remains inaccessible to anyone not versed in Korean.

Newspapers and magazines

The two big English-language newspapers are the Korea Times (w) and Korea Herald (w), near-identical dailies with near-identical addictions to news agency output and dull business statistics. This said, both have decent listings sections in their weekend editions, which detail events around the country, as well as the goings-on in Seoul’s restaurant, film and club scenes. The International Herald Tribune is pretty easy to track down in top hotels, with copies containing the eight-page Joongang Daily (w), an interesting local news supplement. You should also be able to hunt down the previous week’s Time, Newsweek or Economist in most Korean cities – try the larger bookstores, or the book section of a large department store. An interesting source of information is Ohmy News (w), a large online compendium of articles written by members of the public that has long been a quirky bee in the bonnet of local politicians and “proper” journalists.

Television

Korean television is a gaudy feast of madcap game shows and soppy period dramas, and there are few more accessible windows into the true nature of local society. Arirang (w) is a 24-hour English-language television network based in Seoul, which promotes the country with occasionally interesting documentaries, and has regular news bulletins. Arirang TV is free-to-air throughout much of the world, and though not free in Korea itself, it comes as part of most cable packages.

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