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Social Media as Tools of the Korean Government's Policy Communication

Cyber Politics
Democracy
Media
Political Participation
Internet
Social Media
Kyounghee Cho
University of Warwick
Kyounghee Cho
University of Warwick
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Abstract

Since the mid-2000s, Korea’s political communication environment has dramatically changed due to the development of technology. Moreover, some scholars have argued that modern digital technology has the potential to transform governance and produce a more open and participatory political culture with effective institutions that engender trust. Among many issues about media communication, my research will discuss the Korean government’s policy communication via social media. It especially aims to investigate the historical backgrounds of media development and changes of the Korean governmental communication environment, and how the present Korean governmental institutions utilise social media as a tool of policy promotion. By operating online channels to communicate with the public, the Korean government aims to bring about enhanced efficiency of public administration. At present, the Korean government organisational system consists of seventeen ministries, which have their own independent spokesperson and communication departments and are running social media channels such as websites and Social Network Sites (SNSs). The representative examples are Facebook and Twitter. Based on the progress of informatisation promotion in each ministry, it is believed that the policy promotion environment of those governmental organisations via social media would also be affected by these overall communication environment changes. By introducing ‘Government 3.0’, the Korean government also has actively implemented e-governance, which is called to improve the feasibility and expertise of government resources management by constructing government-wide data centers and integrating government information systems. Particularly, the channels of internet-based media have increasingly become a kind of virtual space for citizens to participate in political ways. Public participation is defined as the process by which public concerns, needs and values are incorporated into governmental decision making (Creighton, 2005). In this context, ‘e-participation’ can be defined as “the use of ICT to broaden and deepen political participation by enabling citizens to connect with one another and with their elected representatives” (Macintosh, 2004). While in the past mass media such as broadcasting, newspapers, radio and television are predominantly based on one-way communication, in modern society social media are expected to enable mutual communication between government and public increases citizens’ ability to share, co-operate and take collective action. Nevertheless, it is still necessary to consider whether or not social media has influenced the sharing of information among citizens in a democratic manner, and produces a more open and participatory political culture with effective institutions that engender trust compared to in the past. Regarding this, the Korean government’s policy promotion through social media is also required to have efficient communication planning, and its strategies should consider diversified perspectives. Against this backdrop, the various channels of public opinions and the active, democratic public participation and the operation of SNSs as tools in promoting government policies will be taken into account in this study. In case my proposal is not selected for the Cyberpolitics section, I would be willing to have it transferred to the political communication or public administration section.