The massive expansion of the 2008 BSE candlelight vigils confirmed a changed structure of public debate in Korea by “coalitions of media, experts, civic groups, patrons of media outlets, and political organizations.” Korea’s progressive media, intellectuals, civic groups, citizens, and political parties succeeded in determining the direction of public opinion and power in a vacuum created by collapsed public authority to a considerable extent. At the same time, system of determining the truth in Korean society was being seriously shaken. Though the possibility for an authoritarian regime to re-emerge in Korea has gone since its democratization, the authority of public agencies needed for debate and dialogue is being shaken. Ideological freedom is open to all possibilities, but public authority involving man’s daily necessities and life must make realistic conclusions. In order for disputes to become means of the pursuit of truth, an authority recognized by all parties of a debate is absolutely needed. By delving into the core problems of the candlelight vigils,this paper will identify the origins of the BSE candlelight vigils and the process by which the authority of Korea’s public agencies was damaged and collapsed. It will also reveal the distortions of Korea’s BSE experts’ analyses of the situation,and that these distortions were made possible by the support of “coalitions of media, experts, civic groups, patrons of media outlets, and political organizations.”
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