The media is known to be a link between the government and the public. Both try to take the media on their domains in order to be more powerful. All governments seek to control the media and all countries impose restrictions on freedom of speech (Minehan 2007). However, they have been many instances where the public have played a major role in influencing the media against the government.
This essay will analyse the case studies between the two countries of South Korea and the United States of America. These case studies will briefly demonstrate the relationship between the governments and the media of the two respective countries.
During the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, two Korean middle school girls were killed by A US military AVLM (Armoured Vehicle Launched Mine Clearing Line Charge) on 13 June in Uijeongbu, South Korea.
The Incident Made by the United States Military in South Korea
According to Ray (2002, para. 1), the two girls, named Mi-Sun Shim and Hyo-Soon Shin, who were close friends since early, were walking on the right side of the country road on the local election day. Tracked vehicles normally travel 50-100 meters apart. The AVLM that squashed the girls was the third vehicle in the convoy. An AVLM has a crew of two: a commander and a driver. The former has a wide view and guides the latter, whose view is restricted to the front and the left side. The driver claimed that he did not see the girls who were on his right.
Normally, the commander should have warned the driver of the time because of the curving uphill slope. At the time, a convoy of armoured cars called Bradley came toward the AVLMs from the opposite direction. Bradley machines are 3.6 meters wide. AVLMs are 3.67 meters wide. And the lane is only 3.4 meters wide. The vehicles swerved away to avoid head-on collection. The killer AVLM swerved to the right to the edge of road which was a sharp drop. The girls saw the Bradley coming in the opposite direction and overed their ears to muffle the Bradley engine noise. However, they could not hear the noise coming from the AVLM bearing down on them. The AVLM commander saw the girls and shouted STOP three times but the driver did not hear him because of a faulty earphone. The AVLM swerved out to squash the girls to death.
The US Military with SOFA (Status-of-Forces Agreement)
Status-of-forces agreements play a vital role in preserving command authority, guaranteeing fair treatment of individual service members, and conserving scarce resources. More importantly, SOFAs deal with civil and criminal jurisdiction. They are a vital means by which the Department of Defence carries out its policy directive "to protect, to the maximum extent possible, the rights of United States personnel who may be subject to criminal trial by foreign courts and imprisonment in foreign prisons" (Global Security 2008).
It may be that SOFA itself is fair and equal - but the truth of the matter is that the Korean lawmen have been shy on taking US military personnel to courts of law. No US military personnel who have committed a crime against Koreans have ever been tried in a Korean court. In the case of the murder of the girls, the Korean prosecutors asked the US military for the right to try the guilty GIs in a Korean court of law, which was rejected by the US military. This was the first time that the Koreans have asked, although half-heartedly and ineptly, to try US military personnel who had committed a crime while on duty.
Sensing belatedly the seriousness of the Korean people's anger at the acquittal of the US Military involved in the death of the girls, Dae-Jung Kim, Korean President at that time, had instructed his lame-duck cabinet to do something to stem the anti-US sentiment sweeping South Korea. Many people suspected that Kim was merely going through the motion in order to look ‘presidential’ and that his heart was with the US military, not with the Korean people. More specifically, Kim instructed his cabinet ministers to come out with ideas to change SOFA so as to placate the Korean people, most of whom deem SOFA humiliatingly one-sided (Kimsoft.com 2002, para. 1).
Anti-America Sentiment, Official Apology and Not-Guilty Verdict
The media through newspapers and television only delivered general information and updates about this incident. They did not want to be a reason of the government's immediately concerns with the 2002 FIFA World Cup going on. However, the public did not forget this occurrence. Five months following the girls’ death, the bubbling anger lead to massive protests by the public. Free media, such as the Internet played a major role in the communication between the citizens. Anti-America sentiment had mounted as a result. Around 100 protesters rallied in front of Camp Casey, a US military base in Uijeongbu, as the US military court opened the trial of one of the two US soldiers who were in charge of the vehicle (AFP 2002). In addition, military commander Lieutenant General Charles Campbell repeated the US military's apology over the deaths, but defended its legal system. "I want again to express my sincere apology and deepest sympathy to the families of Mi-Sun Shim and Hyo-Soon Shin. This was a tragic loss of life and we are deeply sorry," he said in a statement. "Taken together, the verdicts in the two trials that were rendered by two different impartial panels indicate that what occurred was a tragic accident without criminal culpability". The South Korean government had asked for jurisdiction in the case, but the US refused. South Korea's Justice Ministry said it was "dissatisfied" by the verdict but respected the US process (BBC 2002).
The United States of America
The Virginia Tech Massacre
Seung-Hui Cho, a 23-year-old South Korean national arrived in The United States of America at age of eight with his family. Although he was not granted the citizenship status he was granted permanent residency. Furthermore, he was diagnosed with a severe form of an anxiety disorder known as selective mutism in middle school, as well as depression (Wikipedia.org – search term Seung-Hui Cho).
On 16 April 2007, Cho made the deadliest school shooting in US history. He used two firearms during the attacks: a small-bore. 22-caliber Walther P22 semi-automatic handgun and a 9 mm semi-automatic Glock 19 handgun. The shootings occurred in separate incidents, with the first at West Ambler Johnston Hall and the second at Norris Hall. During the two attacks, he killed five faculty members and 27 students and wounded many more. Eleven students died in an intermediate French language class in Norris Room 211. Nine students died in an advanced hydrology class in Room 206. Four students died in an elementary German language class in Room 207. One student died in a solid mechanics class in Room 204. Two students died from the earlier attack in West Ambler Johnston. The Virginia Tech review panel reported that Cho's gunshots wounded 17 other people; 6 more were injured when they jumped from second-story windows to escape (Wikipedia. org – search term Virginia Tech massacre).
South Korean Response
When the citizenship of him became known, most South Koreans were shocked and expressed a sense of public shame. The day after the massacre, South Korea's ambassador to the United States, Tae-Shik Lee, spoke at a candlelight vigil organized by Korean churches. Through tears, Lee suggested the Korean-American community needed to "repent" and volunteered to lead a 32-day fast, one day for each victim. "On the occasion of this shocking incident, the Korean community needs to reflect on itself and take it as an opportunity to incorporate itself with the mainstream of American society", Lee said (Siegel 2007). In addition, the South Korean Cabinet convened an emergency meeting to consider possible consequences, and the South Korean President, Moo-Hyun Roh sent condolence messages to the United States and expressed sorrow that "It was shocked beyond description again over the fact that the tragic incident was caused by a South Korean native who has permanent residency" in the U.S., The Associated Press reported (Sohn 2007). Some Korean-Americans criticised the fasting proposal, saying that it directed undue and irrelevant attention on Cho's ethnicity and not other, more salient, reasons behind the shooting. News reports noted that South Koreans seemed relieved that American news coverage of Cho focused on his psychological problems (Wikipedia. org – search term Virginia Tech massacre).
Through the about case studies of the relationships between governments and media of South Korea and the United States of America, one can notice the difference between the two countries.
In my opinion, the South Korean government has been extremely passive to respect to the killings by officials of a foreign government. I would also believe that the South Korean government is still influenced by the United States of America. In contrast, the shootings by the South Korean national created massive public and media uproar in the United States of America, which made the Korean government, express their deep regret.
'Bush effigy burned as US troops stand trial for girls' death' 2002, AFP, 18 November.
GlobalSecurity.org 2008, 'Status-of-Forces Agreement [SOFA]', viewed 16 January 2008, <http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/sofa.htm
Kimsoft.com 2002, 'US military personnel commit more than 600 crimes a year in Korea', viewed 16 January 2008, <http://www.kimsoft.com/2002/us_sofa.htm
'Korean anger as US soldiers cleared' 2002, BBC, 22 November.
Minehan, M. 2007, COMM 218 Class Lecture Notes.
Ray J.C. 2002, 'How Two Korean Girls Were Killed by Americans - The Basic Facts', viewed 16 January 2008, <http://www.kimsoft.com/2002/how_two_korean_girls_were_killed.htm>
Siegel, J. 2007, 'Massacre Triggers Korean Soul-Searching', Forward Association, 27 April, viewed 16 January 2008, <
Sohn, J.A. 2007, 'South Korea Shocked by U.S. Shooting Link', CNN, 18 April, viewed 16 January 2008, <http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/04/17/vatech.seoul/index.html>
Wikipedia.org 2008, 'Seung-Hui Cho', viewed 16 January 2008, <
Wikipedia.org 2008, 'Virginia Tech massacre', viewed 16 January 2008, <