Taming Korea’s Wild Wild Web

by Katharine H.S. MoonIn a society where over 97% of households have high-speed broadband access, the Internet has the power to make or break the careers of South Korean politicians and entertainers and to publicize the private lives of common individuals. Live Web-casts of political rallies and street protests, like those this summer against U.S. beef imports, are common. And “netizens” are vigilant in their monitoring of politicians and the press.But there is a downside. Internet bullying is a major problem. In 2005, netizens so harassed a girl who had not cleaned up after her dog that one newspaper called it “a kind of nationwide cyber lynching.” Today, many Koreans believe that Internet bullying caused the recent suicide of the famous actress, Choe Jin Sil. Korea’s ruling Grand National Party has seized the moment to push for stronger regulation and hopes to pass new legislation to increase Internet regulation by the end of the year.
http://www.feer.com/politics/2008/november/Taming-Koreas-Wild-Wild-WebKatharine H.S. Moon is professor in the Department of Political Science, Wellesley College, and an Asia Society associate fellow.

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