|Owner(s)||Munhwa Ilbo Co.|
|Revised Romanization||Munhwa Ilbo|
|Literally, "Culture Daily"|
Munhwa Ilbo was formerly owned by the Hyundai; however, Hyundai relinquished their control of the newspaper after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, at the same time as their competitor Hanwha gave up its own daily, the Kyunghyang Shinmun. Munhwa Ilbo was Hyundai's first target for separation as it begin trying to slim down its vast business empire; the divestiture was part of a larger trend at the time of chaebol selling off non-core assets and reducing excessive diversification. The newspaper was officially established as a separate financial entity in May 1998.
In January 2002, Munhwa Ilbo began to publish a serial novel Gangan Namja (강안남자) about the sexual exploits of a divorced car salesman, which attracted some public controversy. From 2002 to 2006, the newspaper received 28 warnings from the Korea Press Ethics Commission (KPEC) over the novel's content. On 2 November 2006, the presidential Blue House cut 57 of its subscriptions to the newspaper. They claimed it was because female employees of the Blue House had protested about Gangan Namja. Fellow dailies Chosun Ilbo, JoongAng Ilbo, and Dong-a Ilbo criticised the Blue House's action as "government coercion of the press". However, Kim U-ryong of the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Kim Eon-gyeong of the Citizens' Coalition for Democratic Media both described the novel as "obscene" and criticised its publication in a newspaper read by young people. Grand National Party spokeswoman Na Kyung-won issued a statement opining that the real reason for the Blue House's subscription cancellation was Munhwa Ilbo's criticism of the presidential administration, an accusation which a Blue House spokesman denied.
On 13 September 2007, Munhwa Ilbo printed nude photos of Dongguk University professor Shin Jeong-ah, claiming that they were evidence of Shin's inappropriate relationship with university president Byeon Yang-kyoon. However, the KPEC rejected Munhwa Ilbo's explanation, and ordered the daily to apologise, stating that they had damaged the dignity of all print media. Shin's lawyer stated that she planned to sue the newspaper for libel. They published the apology on the front page of their 18 October 2007 edition; however, the apology itself attracted criticism from the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, and the KPEC indicated that they would review the matter again to decide whether the newspaper's statement actually constituted a proper apology. In the end, Shin filed suit over the photos and the newspaper's coverage of her, receiving W150 million (US$113,000) in compensation in December 2008.
- D. Kirk, ed. (2008). Korea Betrayed: Kim Dae Jung and Sunshine. Springer. p. 181.
The conservative Munhwa Ilbo, Seoul's only afternoon newspaper, revealed some of the concerns.
- "회사연혁 [Company timeline]", Munhwa Ilbo, retrieved 2010-06-25
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- Chun, Su-jin (2006-11-06), "Subscriptions stopped over sexy serial", JoongAng Ilbo, retrieved 2010-06-25
- Park, Ju-hi; Rakove, Daniel (2006-11-11), "What's the matter with 'Gangan Man?'", The Hankyoreh, retrieved 2010-06-25
- Bae, Ji-sook (2007-09-30), "Munhwa Ilbo Ordered to Apologize for Nude Photos", The Korea Times, retrieved 2010-06-25
- "Munhwa Ilbo apologizes for releasing nude photos; civic groups say paper's statement does not go far enough and ask for revision", The Hankyoreh, 2007-10-19, retrieved 2010-06-25
- Park, Si-soo (2008-12-17), "Nude Photo Costs Munhwa W150 Mil.", The Korea Times, retrieved 2010-06-25
- Official website (in Korean)