On Freedom of Speech and Compulsions of Silence

Stig Toft Madsen
April 14, 2008

Scene 1:

In the silent zone compartment of the IC19 Copenhagen-Århus train the rules are simple. All electronic equipment must be switched to silent mode, and conversations must be conducted in other parts of the train. The freedom of speech severely constrained, passengers enjoy a quiet working atmosphere or the chance to sleep as if in their own bed.

Scene 2:

South Korea, 25.02.08: a new president is sworn in

A personal comment by Geir Helgesen, Senior Researcher, NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies

A change of leader in South Korea: does it matter much? Is it not, after all, the institutions and rules that characterize democratic governance while the president is more of a figurehead? Well, yes and no. South Korea is a democracy, as is the USA, but in both countries the president plays a decisive role, in Korea even more so than in the USA.