World Media in 2005: South Korea

Although the South Koreans love their technology, newspapers still dominate the media scene with the three market-leading dailies reaching a combined seven million people every day.

South Korea has been one of Asia's fastest-growing economies and was propelled on to the world stage when it jointly hosted the World Cup with Japan in 2002. Its ties with Japan are expected to become even stronger in 2005 when the two countries celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations.

Electronics is one of South Korea's biggest industries, led by Samsung, one of the fastest-growing brands in the world. The electronics giant, put its entire account into WPP in one of 2004's most high-profile and drawn-out group pitches.

South Korea is a world leader in technology and the government has invested heavily in its information economy. It has paid dividends: China, Japan, and South Korea combined provide around 75 per cent of Asia's internet population and more than 11 million South Koreans have broadband access.

South Korea was one of the fastest adopters of broadband and, for the past few years, the service has been fast enough for South Koreans to download films and TV shows. Online games are big business: 54 per cent of South Koreans play them. Starcom launched a specialised gaming division, Play, in Hong Kong last year, to test the marketing potential of the major gaming markets of South Korea and Japan.

But technology doesn't have it all its own way in South Korea. Newspapers are the dominant medium and the three market-leading papers have a combined daily circulation of almost seven million. They have also spun off hugely successful online versions. The International Herald Tribune enjoys a notably successful joint venture with the local publisher JoongAng Ilbo.

TV claims nearly half of adspend and the majority of the population has digital TV, although terrestrial TV still attracts the most viewing and adspend. Media sales are through the state-owned Kobaco, which has a monopoly on terrestrial sales time.

Korea Broadcasting System, the public service broadcaster, operates two networks. One of its most famous dramas, Winter Sonata, has become an unlikely hit on NHK, the public broadcaster in Japan. Its star, Bae Yong-joon, has a huge number of female fans who flock to South Korea to visit the show's set in Yangyang.

Korea's magazine industry is relatively unsophisticated, claiming only slightly more adspend than radio. Recent launches include local editions of Maxim and Elle Girl.


USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1= Won

1,192 *Estimated

News- Mag-

Total papers azines TV Radio Outdoor Internet

1992 2,363 957 102 701 109 494 0

1993 2,710 1,118 104 753 115 619 0

1994 3,240 1,315 124 896 134 771 0

1995 3,842 1,537 147 1,076 157 925 0

1996 4,528 1,729 174 1,336 182 1,107 0

1997 5,133 2,411 202 1,305 159 1,056 0

1998 3,664 1,928 141 881 93 621 0

1999 4,523 2,440 184 1,286 122 490 0

2000 5,714 2,847 233 1,737 177 606 114

2001 5,643 2,824 245 1,649 167 651 108

2002 6,513 3,119 274 2,040 194 732 155

2003 6,785 3,113 250 2,226 191 777 227

2004 6,415 2,801 229 2,185 185 759 254

2005* 6,281 2,659 210 2,164 181 780 287

2006* 6,574 2,791 216 2,272 190 804 300

2007* 6,895 2,931 223 2,386 196 844 315


1) Discounts not given

2) Includes agency commission and classified

3) Excludes production costs

4) 'Other' includes cinema and direct mail.



Newspaper: The Chosun Ilbo (daily, 2,372,000)

Business magazine: Chosun (weekly, 120,000)

Consumer magazine: Women Sense (monthly, 150,000)

Most-watched TV programme (2003): Taejo Wang-gun (drama)

Best new TV format: Any Korean drama


Audit Bureau of Circulations: Only the top three papers are audited by

Korean ABC.

TV viewing: AC Nielsen


Newspapers: Sang-Hoon Bang, Seok-Hyun Hong

Magazines: Seoul Munhwa Sa, Woong Jin Publishing

Television: KBS (public), MBC, SBS


Media topic du jour - The growth of digital satellite and cable TV.

Reigning media guru and why - Yoo Sungsoo, the sales director of the newspaper Dong-A Ilbo, is a true professional who is well known for his charming personality.

Media mogul to be seen dining with and why - Hong Ji-Il, the executive director of Kobaco. He has made Kobaco a service-led sales house boasting smart and bright ideas.

Car to drive - Kia Opirus, a luxury sedan.

Top-selling beer brand - Hite.

Phone to carry - Samsung.

Whatever you do, don't say ... "I'll do it tomorrow." Do it today..