This case explores the actions taken by a reporter that ultimately resulted in the impeachment and imprisonment of former South Korean President Park Geun hye due to corruption. The information for the ground-breaking story, however, may have been obtained using questionable means. The case seeks to highlight the process of mental rationalization, specifically forms of moral disengagement, like moral justification, that frequently occur before engaging in ethically questionable behaviour. Through the case, students will grapple with the difficult question of whether it is okay to do a little bad for something that might be considered a greater good.
This kind of moral dilemma and related rationalization process will confront every student in some phase of their life. To be effective in ethical decision-making, it is important for students to be aware when such situations arise, to understand rationalization and related psychological processes, and to use this knowledge to make more thoughtful decisions.
The key learning objectives of the case are: i) to improve ethical decision-making by introducing aspects of moral disengagement, and more specifically, the concept of moral justification. Moral justification is a common tool employed by individuals to justify pursuing behavior that is questionable or unethical; ii) to better identify mental processes related to moral disengagement and use them as possible red flags to help improve awareness of situations with an ethical component; and iii) more broadly, to expose students to elements of governance issues resulting from the close relationship between South Korea’s chaebol conglomerates and the government.