Global Freedom of Expression

Statute Allowing the Commission to Give Order Broadcasting Business Operator to Make Apology to Viewers

Closed Expands Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Audio / Visual Broadcasting
  • Date of Decision
    August 23, 2012
  • Outcome
    Law or Action Overturned or Deemed Unconstitutional, Other
  • Case Number
    2009 Hun-Ka27
  • Region & Country
    Korea, Republic of, Asia and Asia Pacific
  • Judicial Body
    Constitutional Court
  • Type of Law
    Administrative Law, Constitutional Law
  • Themes
    Content Regulation / Censorship, Licensing / Media Regulation
  • Tags
    Coerced or Compelled Speech

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Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

Article 100, section 1, item 1, of South Korea’s Broadcasting Act (Act) was found to be unconstitutional because it amounted to an excessive restriction on speech by allowing the Korea Communications Commission (Commission) to take disciplinary measures against broadcasters by requiring them to make a public apology.


After the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (Munhwa) violated the Deliberation Rules (whether or not these rules actually violated the South Korean Constitution was not considered), the Commission ordered Munhwa to make a public apology to its viewers. This disciplinary action was pursued according to the Commission’s power derived under article 100, section 1, item 1, of the Act. Munhwa filed suit, stating it had not violated the Deliberation Rules; the court then submitted the case to the Constitutional Court of Korea for a determination as to the constitutionality of the Act.

Decision Overview

The Constitutional Court of Korea found the provision in article 100, section 1, item 1, of the Act, which permitted the Commission to order violators to make a public apology, to be unconstitutional. The Court held that requiring broadcasters to make a public apology against their will hindered freedom of expression and was not the least restrictive means possible of achieving the purposes of the Act. Other disciplinary measures identified in the act, such as the issuance of a warning, were better suited to meet the least restrictive means standard. The Court emphasized the existence of a legal personality right that was harmed by requiring a public apology.

One justice dissented, arguing that the legal personality right is limited to individual human beings. The application of this right to a legal entity, a broadcasting corporation, goes beyond the scope of the right.

Decision Direction

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Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Expands Expression

This case before the Constitutional Court of Korea expanded expression because it protected freedom of speech by refusing to allow the Korea Communications Commission  to force a broadcasting company to make a public apology. It further expands expression by allowing a legal entity, a broadcasting corporation, the protections of a legal personality.

Global Perspective

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Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

National standards, law or jurisprudence

  • S. Kor., Former Broadcasting Act (revised by Act No. 8867 on February 29, 2008 and before revised by Act No. 9786 on July 31, 2009) art. 100(1)
  • S. Kor., Broadcasting Act (revised by Act No. 9786 on July 31, 2009)

Case Significance

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Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

The decision establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction.

Official Case Documents

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