Suicide of South Korean actress fuels Internet debate

The government wants to toughen the punishment for cyber-insulters, who are cited as a factor in the death of Choi Jin-sil. But some say free speech is at stake.Reporting from Seoul — “Shocking facts . . . suspicions about Choi Jin-sil.”The post about one of South Korea’s most beloved actresses surfaced in an online club for stock investors last month, days after an actor friend of hers committed suicide. The post went on to claim that the dead actor had owed Choi money.The rumor was copied and spread widely over the next days, with online posters blaming Choi’s money lending for the actor’s death. Choi, a national sweetheart long admired for overcoming adversity, resented and strongly denied the rumor. She said she was “scared that the world distorts friendship.”Less than two weeks later, Choi was found hanged in the bathroom of her house in Seoul, prompting some in the South Korean news media to point the finger at Internet gossipmongers, who were accused of driving the mother of two to take her life.,0,1094736.story

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