SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ President Roh Tae-woo said today that the news media of South Korea and the United States should show restraint and avoid reports that may provoke the sentiments of their people.

Roh made the remarks after receiving a briefing on growing anti-U.S. sentiment in South Korea during the Olympics now under way in Seoul.

''The news media of the two countries now should report in a way not to provoke the sentiments of each other's people,'' Roh said during a visit to the main Olympic press center.

The president commented on a raging controversy involving the NBC, saying the American television network's reports of South Korea were ''mostly affirmative.''

''Even if the reports of NBC included something that hurt our self-esteem, we should put up with it, since most of the network's reorts were affimative,'' he said.

NBC has been a target of South Korean criticism because of its extensive coverage of South Korean boxing officials' assault on a New Zealand referee after one of their Olympic boxers lost a close decision last week.

The allegedly ''biased'' coverage of NBC and incidents involving American athletes, including the arrests of two U.S. gold medalist swimmers after a mask was taken from a hotel, touched off a new wave of anti-American sentiments.

Prime Minister Lee Hyun-jae also took up the issue today and said, ''We should not let one-time feelings damage the traditionally friendly relations between the United States and our nation.''

Governing and opposition politicians also expressed concern about rising anti-U.S. and pro-Soviet sentiment in South Korea and warned that the trend could hurt South Korea's national interest.

South Koreans enthusiastically backed the Soviet Union in its victorious semifinal basketball match with the United States on Wednesday.

Governing party officials said the Soviet Union, which has no diplomtic relations with Seoul, appeared to have won the favor of the South Korean people with extensive cultural programs even before the Olympic Games opened Sept. 17.

In an elaborate approach to South Korea, the Soviet Union sent to Seoul the a Bolshoi ballet contingent, a philharmonic orchestra and two choir groups plus a sports photo exhibition.