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Choi Jin-sil’s slanderer given lighter punishment on appeal

Deceased actress Choi Jin-shil‘s netizen tormentor (identified only as Baek, female) has been penalized with 40 million won fine ($35,000) in an appeal trial, which reverses her earlier sentencing. Baek is the netizen who slandered and harassed Choi, even calling the actress at home, before Choi committed suicide last October.

For a refresher:

One of Choi Jin-shil’s best friends, Jung Sun-hee, married actor and businessman Ahn Jae-hwan in 2007, whose business started to run into trouble in 2008. Choi lent him money (2.5 billion won, or $2 million) to help get him back on his feet, but in the end it wasn’t enough, and Ahn committed suicide in September 2008.

(Jung had made statements about the mad-cow candlelight protests where thousands showed up in opposition of President Lee Myung-bak giving in to U.S. political pressure to lift the ban on U.S. beef imports — and people boycotted her home-shopping line in reaction to it. As a result, Ahn’s cosmetics line failed and he was facing financial difficulties.)

Netizen attacks:

Shortly after Ahn’s suicide, a netizen started to spread false rumors that Choi had acted as a “loan shark” to Ahn, and that she had pressured and threatened him for repayment, effectively blaming Choi for Ahn’s suicide. Choi suffered severe depression and, provoked by malicious net-slander, committed suicide not long after, in October 2008.

Prosecuting Choi’s tormentor:

The severity of the slander (and the high profile of its target) prompted police to find its source, and traced it to Baek, an employee at a brokerage firm. In the initial trial, she was given 10 months of jail time on a 2 year suspended sentence (no actual jail time if 2 years of probation are clean) and 120 hours of community service.

The case was tried on appeal, and on December 10, 2009, she was issued a penalty fine of 40 million won by the Seoul Central District Court, which takes the place of her previous punishment. The court explained its decision by saying that although Baek had severely defamed Choi’s character with groundless claims and the nature of her crime was terrible, she was not responsible for the suicide and therefore the initial sentencing was too harsh.

Cyber slander laws:

In the wake of Choi’s suicide (and the rash of celebrity suicides that followed last year), there has been a push to enact cyber slander laws against attacks of this kind. However, there have been arguments that Choi’s death has been exploited politically to allow the government to impose restrictions on free speech.

Choi’s family:

Meanwhile, Choi’s two children had been embroiled in a bitter custody dispute between her family (brother Choi Jin-young and her mother) and her baseball player ex-husband Jo Sung-min, who is notorious for having previously beaten Choi and cheating on her, and who had not seen his children in years. (Choi had in fact won the right to register the children under her family name in 2008.)

In the end, perhaps swayed by the heated public outcry, Jo relented and gave up his claim.

Via SBS, Newsen

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Nothing about this is happy, joyful or uplifting. There is only sorrow for those who have suffered as a result of malicious actions of others. When I see things like this, I feel like society bears an equal share responsibility in this. And by society, I mean each of us.

I believe that we, as a society, must change our mindset, and we must believe that a wrong or an evil or an injustice, even if it does not affect us directly, is something that must be fought, on an individual level. We have to take some small measure of responsbility. This is what a society is. We are the petri dish on which selfish and self-aggrandizing and otherwise sociopathic individuals grow and thrive.

I am not saying that "society" could have prevented these tragedies from happening, but I am saying that those people most responsible for causing so much pain on others.... those people needed to have had their asses kicked a LONG TIME before they acted out, because that's how society trains its members to behave in a manner that reflects the golden rule - with respect to others, to act in such a way that reflects how you would want to be treated.

Choi Jin Shil was the very first of the korean actors who made it into my day-dreams, and I hope that wherever she is, she is happier there than when she was with us.

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samsooki - I couldn't have said it any better. I am just shocked and deeply saddened that we as people can force/pressure someone into such a state that they would feel that they don't deserve to be alive anymore.

It's definately something as a society we need to look into and try to tackle, so that stories like these never occur again and I think the first place to look is within ourselves. I honestly wonder what these peoples parents think.

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That woman may not have been the one to kill Choi Jin Shil, but she did have a hand in her suicide. She should be held accountable for that, not just for slander. There is where I loose faith in court systems, no matter what country it is in. :(

I also second Samsooki and Eviie.

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A civil lawsuit might be the best route for the Jin-Shil family at this point. They should take the abuser to the cleaners.

I wonder why this was a slander case, and not an outright criminal stalking case. The fact that the woman made phone calls to CJS's home takes this beyond a typical slander case -- this was outright criminal harassment.

The court's decision to not equate the harassment with the suicide makes sense because it sounds like there were other factors that could have contributed to her death.

But seriously though -- we need to start reevaluating existing slander, defamation, and harassment laws in individual countries. The internet is a whole new game in town, and a person's life can be completely destroyed by a determined nutcase.

I had one experience with a psycho online -- and have very wary of people on the internet ever since. But it was a scary experience, and that was when I realized how completely archaic our existing laws are.

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I'm sure that Choi Jinshil's suicide was a product of depressions piling up, which was only trigerred by the slander.

But I still can't believe how a person can be that...evil, resorting to terror someone she doesn't even know over something that doesn't have anything to do with her. That is something I can't fathom. Why did this Baek person go through such length to torture CJS? Was that a 'just because' mindset? It is such a hateful thing, she is no different than those terrorists who kill people.

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samsooki, your post reminded me of this quote i saw today:

"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." - Ayn Rand

You put it very well <3

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as bias and ignorant as what i'm about to say may be, i still feel like i have to say it

what is up with all the celebrity suicides in Korea? and why are there such creepy netizens in Korea?
i feel like netizens in Korea have some sort of power to get their message out and are much more... fervent than the normal citizen

i never even heard of the term netizen until i started watching korean shows and i have to say there is an immense population of crazy netizens out there

-people telling jaebum to commit suicide
-people hoping all of snsd die (wtf?)
-so much judgment by people onLINE that gets the gossip going and bitching about plastic surgery
-CREEPYASS fan(girls/boys but i'm seeing mainly pubescent chicks) going nuts in hatred and anger when their precious idols (who it seems like everyone is destined to marry) ever have anything close to a love interest <--- fangirls of this genre annoy the crap out of me

i'm not saying this doesn't happen in other countries but i really feel korea has a highly unique situation when it comes to celebrities

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@6: Ayn Rand, huh? :) I think her philosophy was Objectivism and she wrote multiple books about that, including Anthem which I read.

But about the article: I remember when I first found out Choi Jin Shil died. I hadn't wanted her dramas- but I had watched the Last Scandal of My Life, and I decided then and there that I was a Choi Jin Shil fan. My parents were beyond surprised and so was my mom, who kept talking about Choi Jin Shil like she was my mom's friend.

Like someone had previously said, her decision to commit suicide was just triggered by this person. She had gone through so many things and troubles and had fallen into depression, but this person was the one who triggered it. The netizen might not have been the main reason but it might've made a hell of a lot of difference if this had never happened.

People are just cruel. Even after death, she couldn't rest in peace. She might not be Korea's sweetheart anymore, but she holds a special place in many people's hearts as an actress.

Choi Jin Shil, I hope you rest in peace.

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Gosh I miss Choi Jin-shil. RIP.

(Sorry JB but maybe a slight typo of her name in the title. ^^)

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Which is worse, the fine or the jail time?

Is it to do record-wise? Because I'd think $35k is much worse than 2 years suspended time and 120 hours of community service.

In any case, a tragedy. Though everyone may have a right to their opinion, there is a fine line between that and slander. This needs to stop especially online, where everyone believes themselves to be anonymous and therefore spout hurtful opinions and outright lies they never would voice in real life.

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This is simply another sad reminder of the flaws in both the court, and the human social system. I couldn't have said it better than samsooki, and Eviie. I feel that there is no justice here for Choi Jin-sil or her family, and I wonder if this Baek woman feels any remorse for her actions, (I highly doubt it). It never ceases to amaze me the lengths that people will go to in order to express their hate, and Korea seems to express the worst of it. And to what end? Death? I'm left wondering (and I apologize for the western religious terminology here) who's sin is greater? The one who took their own life, or the one who drove them to that end? In my mind it is the tormentor at greatest fault here, but my opinion means little in this case.

My thoughts are with Choi's family as they once again have to face this tragedy.

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Although I'm certainly not defending Baek's actions, I would refrain from calling her a psycho or evil or a terrorist. In doing so, you are also perpetuating net-libel. Also, Samsooki -- very well put.

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Baek can go to hell.

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My prayer goes out to CJS family, especially the children, i hope they were given the strength to get past through this...

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I still agree with the part that this case was being used as a political move to push toward more government censorship, which is dangerous territory.

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I hope Karma does its worst to Baek. The hater deserves it.

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"I hope Karma does its worst to Baek."

Seriously. Baek can go to hell.

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if the police found that the person who spread false rumour was true, then he/she should get whats coming,
anyone who defames anyone is wrong
now if we were in high school, this would have been immature, children would have gotten hurt and moved on
but if you are 18+ and decide to defame someone whether the fact is wrong or right
i remember in aus a famous local celebrity (he did ads about cheap items) and someone made a rumour about him which he tracked down, the man who spread the rumour had to pay 2 million etc because it ruined his image, he rep etc etc in court and he never had to do another ad again

the above example is an extreme circumstance where someone got payback for something like that

theoretically that woman started a rumour, and as time went by, choi suffered psychological damage and left the world with her two kids without a mother, her kids will never grow up knowing who and what she was.
while she is given a slap on the wrist and a fine and she a free woman and able to live out her natural life

i think there should be a law on cyber bullying, with the correct and appropriate measures taken to ensure that integrity and punishment fits the crime and with enough proof put them away for what they deserve.
in my opinion (from news and kpop related info), korean netizens are the worst bloggers and the attacks are sometimes outrageous and plain stupid
korean bloggers made jaybom leave kpop earlier this year
k bloggers killed choi and left her children without a mum

theres is my rant and thanks dramabean on the update

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@7 ambs

The netizens have power because the media gives it to them.

Netizens have opinions, they go to the messageboards. The media then takes these opinions and turn them into headlines. The media compounds the issue by writing countless, needless articles, all of which are fueled by the opinions of netizens.

I also think netizens are the way they are because Korean people are aggressive by nature. I say this as a Korean-American looking from the outside, but it's becoming more and more clear to me just how much Korean people can be hostile and confrontational. One could find a hostile group of people in any culture, but when you look at Korean netizens, the number of Korean celebrities who succumb to suicide due to netizen hate, online wars on Korean messageboards and Youtube (of all places!) or even watch the Korean news, it's obvious how confrontational Koreans can be.

How else can we answer the question why so many Korean celebrities kill themselves, except to say, because the people there are vultures and have no sense of remorse for what they say on the internet.

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I may be kidding about killing Bora (erm, OT madness), but I really couldn't care if Baek was allowed to live. It's not just one comment this evil bitch made -- she went AFTER Choi Jin Shil. Bitch deserves to die. Sorry -- I still can't believe Choi Jin Shil is gone. :(

"How else can we answer the question why so many Korean celebrities kill themselves"

Mmm, more symptomatic of society than anything else. Both Korea and Japan have exceptionally high suicide rates.

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"Mmm, more symptomatic of society than anything else. Both Korea and Japan have exceptionally high suicide rates."

But how many examples are there of Japanese celebrities killing themselves because of netizen slander or depression caused by netizen hate?

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over here in the US, we have "netizens" too, criticizing celebrities. but they don't take these kind of comments seriously. instead, they actually either embrace or ignore the criticism. sure, there were some celebrities who suffered from depression or drugs/alcohol abuse, but they try to get help to get better. we rarely hear someone famous died from cyberstalking. if someone dares to stalk or harass a celeb, he/she calls the cops and have a restraining order. i wish Korean celebs would take their lives more seriously and get treated for depression. there is no shame in medicating yourself because what's at stake is their well-being and family. doesn't the family members notice there is something wrong with the afflicted person? if you notice a change in mood and behavior, you keep a close watch on that person and try to get professional help when it comes to it. i notice that most Korean celebs that suicided, they were by themselves in hotels without no one close to make sure they were ok. is it a culture difference or just societal harassment that lead to suicide? my statement might offend people, but in some Asian cultures, a failure might trigger wanting to suicide because it's not what their family expect from the person.

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I know this isn't much important but wasn't it denied by both parties Choi and Ahn/Jung that CJS never lent money to him, Jung Sun Hee even said CJS and AJH never talked about money..Anyway at the end of day a mother lost a daughter, a brother lost a sister and two young children lost a mother forever and let me say that Korea lost one of their best actress. I understand the court's explanation that this Baek wasn't fully responsible for CJS death for she had been depressed for years.. I just hope that a guilt of killing someone and making two young children motherless will stay to Baek's conscience for the rest of her regretful life... Im sure until her death, she will be known as the person who killed Choi Jin Shil.

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I think that saying this Baek person should 'die' or 'go to hell' is doing exactly what we are reacting against. Sure, she started a terrible rumour, which no doubt had an impact on the unfornunate late Choi Jin Shil, BUT:

- a rumour is not powerful without the power of many behind it. I doubt she was alone in this instance, and this kind of net-slander happens all the time.
- Suicide is often the result of depression, as it seems to be here. I think it is unfair to blame Choi Jin Shil's depression solely on this woman, as depression is a mental illness which can effect even people with seemingly perfect lives.

I'm not saying this woman's actions did not affect Choi Jin Shil, or even influence her mental state (I do believe her actions deserve punishment), but I think people just need to be mindful that there are certainly other factors involved which we cannot know.

To stop this kind of net abuse from affecting people so severely, we need to stop our own abuse of others (no matter how much you hate them, or how much you think they have done wrong, or how much you believe your comments won't affect them =p). One drop of water is pretty powerless, right? But millions of drops can make an ocean.

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mmm,
every part of her life was pretty depressing,
it's a shame that such a talented actress had to live such a hard life -to the point where she could nolonger take it.
No, actually, it;s a shame for ANYONE to live such a life.

D:

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@9 ndegeocello -

I think this is right.

It isn't that people in message boards are saying one thing or another, it is that media outlets in Korea are picking up and amplifying what is being said.

It could be just a few dozen haters on the boards saying something, but if that sentiment, rightly or wrongly, is picked up by the media, then it isn't just a few people, it could feel like everybody thinks that way (even if nobody feels that way except for the original few dozen haters).

Jae-Beom says something stupid and a few dozen people scream for his head on the message boards. OSEN and STAR pick up that chatter and then they write huge headlines that shout out:

"KOREANS TO FOREIGNER JAE-BEOM - DROP DEAD OR GO BACK TO AMERICA."

Now what does it seem like?

One of the reasons why American celebrities are less responsive to internet chatter is because the trashy mags and media outlets that end up amplifying the internet chatter are regarded as being stupid magazines. You see these magazines in the grocery store aisles and you smirk and you might even pick one up to skim before paying for your stuff, but you don't actually believe 25% of what is printed in those magazines. If I see a headline that reads: ANGELINA TO BRAD: I WANT OUT! then my first reaction is I can't believe they get away with printing rumors like that - NOT, omg brad pitt is such a control-freak.

In Korea, the media tends to be all the same. Legit news sources inter-mingle with trash, and even legit news sources act like trash mags half the time, and so really, I can't tell what is truth, and what is propaganda, with the Korean media.

If you are a Korean celeb and you are in the veritable fish bowl, your life is controlled by those wanton media folks who may or may not have agendas themselves. What a terrible price to pay for being an artist...

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I agree with Samsooki -
The reason netizens have so much power is the direct result of the unprofessional nature of Korean journalism. K-newspapers literally get info from some of the most questionable sources like messageboards/forums/comments on blogs of RANDOM people. Then they quote it as the opinion of all korean people when it was in fact the quote of ONE person - AND they leave out the important bit that the conclusion was not reached through statistics/polls or the compilation of MANY opinions. Obviously this chance at 15 seconds of fame/chance to be heard is enough for people to start "yelling" about just anything to get attention. So in a nutshell, K-papers are really fueling (and creating) a mass of internet attention whores :

What I REALLY think needs to be done - more than celeb slander laws which is just putting a bandaid on an infection - is a totally reformation of journalism practices in korea. Professional journalism with credible sources would take away the netizen's power and effectively make what they say nothing more than a personal opinion - as it should be. Separation of tabloids and ACTUAL articles is the solution to not just more trustworthy information but would TRULY improve celeb culture in Korea for the better. Opinions?

I truly think this is worsened by the smallness of S.Korea - you can feasibly run into k-celebs out & about or live next door to them. Info travels fast and results of the info get personal even faster and harder to ignore....you can't "hide" in Korea. You have literally leave the country if you want to go underground for awhile...it's a good thing b/c fans really feel close to you and will do things like send lunch to your entire filming crew (something I have yet to hear fans in the US do for US celebs)....yet the flipside is attacks/slander are just as deeply personal and passionate. The consequences of living in a small country is something I genuinely think is hard to explain unless you experience it.

Anyway I don't think it has too do with Koreans being more "aggressive" or "confrontational" simply b/c they are Korean : I'm sure everyone has their reasons for stating certain races are "like that"... but it is a very slippery slope...

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oh jeez. one thing i want to say first is that i feel "freedom of speech" should end where it can potentially, seriously hurt someone. not saying you shouldn't be allowed to say "i dont like you" or anything but when it comes to this point, something's gotta be done.

and i can't believe choi jin shil's slanderer was given a lighter punishment when thanks to this person a LIFE was lost!! i'm sure several of us here have lost someone and i can say if someone important to me was involved in this i would be outraged!

and i do feel like something should be done about these crazy netizens or, like someone else said, have it so that there are more credible news sources in korea. honestly, as a korean, i must admit i dont read the newspaper believing in getting truth out of it. i just look at it for any possible celebrity photos.

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Horrible. $35,000 is not enough...

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This is completely horrible. It is sad to be reminded of the true nature in humans. Because Nature is ugly by default. Look at the science channels, or the Discovery/Nature channels, and you'll see the glazing deer being attacked by a hungry loin. Same rules apply to man. What separates us from animals is the fact that we can control our judgment and chose to be civilized. This woman's lack of judgment is disgraceful at best. I feel for Choi's family and her loved ones. No matter which way you look at the situation, this is a sad and shameless thing for any human being to do.

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"Sure, she started a terrible rumour, which no doubt had an impact on the unfornunate late Choi Jin Shil, BUT"

I agree. Still, Baek should go to hell. At least, she should see prison (per the original punishment.)

I agree about Korean journalism (though if you want to see truly bad, look at HK journalism.) However, you guys DO know that most Korean celebrities are very close to their fans due to the overall ultra-connected internet culture in Korea. Think about it -- you can drop fanmail or hatemail right into the mailbox of most celebrities, and in many case, the celebs are going to read it without somebody else filtering their mail. They take it very personally, and they may not have an "irony filter" (big difference between Westerner and Easterners) to squelch that stuff. It can be a great source of encouragement . . . or it can be very destructive, especially if somebody is older and did not grow up with the Internet.

We're only seeing it in the States with Twitter. But imagine Popseoul (aka the anus of Western K-pop), multiplied by a 1000, straight into your local e-mail address.

@ndegeocello,

"But how many examples are there of Japanese celebrities killing themselves because of netizen slander or depression caused by netizen hate?"

Don't know either way really. The "it’s obvious how confrontational Koreans can be" puzzled me a bit. If you've ever been on Japanese netizen board, then you'll know how sick it can get. Not because they're Japanese, but because they're anonymous.

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wow....kill that Baek btch!!! I wish I knew her real identity....I'll give her a piece of my mind...shame shame shame on you Baek!

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it's sad that the punishment is made lighter, which might have the adverse effect that the bad netizens would continue to spread rumours to damage the reputation of celebrities (not only stars, but also politicians and celebrity of any sort). Really don't want to have a further single one incident of suicide for the reason of internet rumour.

Actually, the incident of bad netizens had led to the government to tighten up control in the internet. Now because of some new enactment by the government, many korean newsgroups or websites do not allow foreigners to leave message in the newsgroups or blogs. The fact is that the poor netizens are in Korea, not in foreign countries where foreigners are mostly fans of Hallyu. Disallowing us to leave message there to support our stars would be very distressful to us. We want to support the korean stars instead of damaging their reputations!

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I agree with Samsooki with all her thoughts regarding this matter, for a fact that I'm happy reading the news, that at least Ms. Baek will be punished somehow for her wrong, I still also can't believe that Choi Jin-shil is really no longer here with us....

anyway Korean netizens I think are really scary when it comes to web bashing, I mean it really happens around the net but sometimes they take it into the extreme, for one I think it may or may not be called an obsessive behavior of sorts

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@ belleza "Don’t know either way really. The “it’s obvious how confrontational Koreans can be” puzzled me a bit. If you’ve ever been on Japanese netizen board, then you’ll know how sick it can get. Not because they’re Japanese, but because they’re anonymous."

Maybe I've become biased after reading expat blogs like The Marmot's Hole, but I've learned Koreans being confrontational is a common complaint among expats. After reading so many personal experiences and witnessing numerous examples of it in Korean culture, I've started to believe it to be true.

Maybe confrontational isn't the right word to describe it. Hostile? Aggressive? Don't like to back down even when they're wrong? Whatever it is, I think it's in the nature of Korean culture and (lack of) etiquette and partially explains why Korean netizens act the way they do.

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Here's a great article on how entertainment shows, internet portal sites (like Naver, widely popular in Korea), and the media all influence each other:

http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2009/12/ask-korean-news-internet-and-korean.html

"Note: "sports newspapers" are Korea's tabloids, focusing on sports, celebrity gossip, lots of pictures and cartoons.

The recent trend is that a portal site's main screen and real time search term rankings each morning are filled with gossips about celebrities who appeared on a talk show the night before. For a show to make a hit, it has to be "portal-friendly" -- because now there exists a virtuous cycle of voluminous and strong gossips feeding into higher ratings.

So the show [Strong Heart] boldly discards the conversation format; instead the guests toss to the viewers the pre-packaged "strong issue-creator" (or "chum", according to the Internet vernacular.) Seen positively, the show is an evolution toward a conversation with the viewers; seen negatively, it is an degeneration toward yellow journalism.

Of course, reaction from the Internet users alone is not enough. What really makes a TV talk show shine is the Internet-based entertainment-focused media companies. For these Internet-based, breaking news-focused media that strives for low cost and high volume, relaying the contents of a TV talk show plays to their strength. They are also welcome allies to television, since they provide a near-watching experience that does not require actually watching TV, and also some "official" authority even to simple gossip-like remark. In the end, the entertainment news on portal sites on Wednesday morning is filled with gossips provided by Gangshimjang"

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"The recent trend is that a portal site’s main screen and real time search term rankings each morning are filled with gossips about celebrities who appeared on a talk show the night before"

Yeah, but that's also true of America and most countries. Gossip or "buzz" following a talk show is actually what agencies looks for with their celebrities. That is why they do these shows. It's part of the well-oiled machine.

"What really makes a TV talk show shine is the Internet-based entertainment-focused media companies. For these Internet-based, breaking news-focused media that strives for low cost and high volume, relaying the contents of a TV talk show plays to their strength"

That's correct -- America's starting to move in that direction thanks to Twitter and Perez Hilton. (That's also why I kept telling people that YAB was doing fine even with its so-so conventional ratings. The Net buzz on the show was extremely strong.) Celebrities have no real function in society except to entertain the masses, and perhaps to reflect something about our personal lives and society that is meaningful. As a result tabloid media uses them like meat.

The key thing is access. Korean celebrities decide to make themselves easily available on the net. Most American celebrities still don't (except through Twitter, which is a significant change.) They use the Internet as a means of promotion, not as a way to broad the distance between them and fans. Now, we're seeing athletes and celebrities react through the use of Twitter, and tearing down that 5th wall is EXPLODING the gossip fodder for mainstream TV media.

There's certainly a law of averages here. For a popular star, 80% of the people will love you. 20% of the people will hate you. (Also, you can't have mass fangirl devotion/love of show/actor without antis. Fangirlism isn't normal either way.) The problem is, can much access do those 20% of the people have on your private life? When they leave threatening phone calls or spray you in the eyes with something harmful or spread vicious rumors -- BECAUSE THEY WANT TO DESTROY YOU -- I have no pity for these people.

As for Jaeboom . . . yeah, I totally see where the Koreans are coming from. Korea's nationalistic (compulsory service also reinforces that BTW . . . if you've ever served, you'll be more passionate about your country), but more importantly Jaeboom is a gyopo. If you're a gyopo pop star, you're more or less a guest in the country no matter how much your fangirls love you. If you bitch and moan like a stereotypical English Language Teacher . . . then you'll be treated like a stereotypical English Language Teacher.

I feel bad for Jaeboom (and I imagine there's so many other things that led to this), but I also feel that eventually his management could have solved the problem. If that was what Jaeboom really wanted. To me, it sounded like this was the final straw, not the only thing that caused him to leave.

"but I’ve learned Koreans being confrontational is a common complaint among expats"

Ehhhh . . . I mean, there is that stereotype about Koreans being, well, louder. Same with Taiwan and *especially* China. Shrug. I had to make the adjustment too.

In terms of Netizen Herd Behaviour . . . true of Asia in general. Go to a Chinese portal, same dang thing.

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'The recent trend is that a portal site’s main screen and real time search term rankings each morning are filled with gossips about celebrities who appeared on a talk show the night before'

"Yeah, but that’s also true of America and most countries. Gossip or “buzz” following a talk show is actually what agencies looks for with their celebrities. That is why they do these shows. It’s part of the well-oiled machine."

I think the point here though is that Korean internet is setup specifically to fuel the gossip or buzz. For example, take the most popular search engine in the US and Korea: http://www.google.com/ VS http://www.naver.com/

Google is pretty much a blank page with only a search box. Type in what you want to find and the results appear. OTOH, Naver's front page is plastered with the latest headlines, pictures, shopping trends, etc. The Naver green box is synonymous with 검색1위. Real time search rankings aren't ingrained into American culture like it is in Korea. There really isn't an equivalent of 검색1위 in internet in the US.

"In terms of Netizen Herd Behaviour . . . true of Asia in general. Go to a Chinese portal, same dang thing."

Still, why is it that Korean netizens of all the Asian netizens are deemed the most fervent and crazy?

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"Still, why is it that Korean netizens of all the Asian netizens are deemed the most fervent and crazy?"

Because K-pop has the biggest mindshare of Asian pop culture in the Western world, and so that's what we focus on. Internet culture in general is moving toward that direction. When Generation Z/Millennials comes of age, how it is in Korea now will be how it is for the majority of the technological world. American Reality TV (and, here, America was 5-10 years behind every other country in really adopting reality TV) is only a transitional point for that.

"Google is pretty much a blank page with only a search box. Type in what you want to find and the results appear. OTOH, Naver’s front page is plastered with the latest headlines, pictures, shopping trends, etc."

Right, but that was a Google choice. If you go onto Yahoo, they have search rankings and if there's a major tabloid story (like Tiger Woods), that goes up on the portal. In fact, the majority of stories on any given day are tabloid stories.

"I think the point here though is that Korean internet is setup specifically to fuel the gossip or buzz. "

Right . . . just like how it is in the majority of Asia and how it's starting to happen in America. Sex videos, twitter, blogs breaking in stories, etc. Korea started the "Q&A portal" culture, but it's also moved over to China and Japan. There are more people in China who have cell phones than there are people who live in the United States. Everybody in Asia is connected now; it's the West that's trying to catch up.

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"Because K-pop has the biggest mindshare of Asian pop culture in the Western world, and so that’s what we focus on."

Actually, I don't think that's true at all. I always thought and still think Jpop is more popular than Kpop among non-Asians in the West. And certainly, Chinese/Hong Kong movies are more mainstream in the US than Korean movies.

"Right, but that was a Google choice. If you go onto Yahoo, they have search rankings and if there’s a major tabloid story (like Tiger Woods), that goes up on the portal. In fact, the majority of stories on any given day are tabloid stories."

http://www.seoconsultants.com/search-engines/

We're talking about the most popular search engines. Yahoo doesn't even come close to the amount of usage as Google.

"Right . . . just like how it is in the majority of Asia and how it’s starting to happen in America. Sex videos, twitter, blogs breaking in stories, etc. Korea started the “Q&A portal” culture, but it’s also moved over to China and Japan. There are more people in China who have cell phones than there are people who live in the United States. Everybody in Asia is connected now; it’s the West that’s trying to catch up."

I don't understand the point you're trying to make. So if the West catches up to the rest of Asia, they'll have crazy netizens, too? Fact is, there are crazy internet users everywhere, in every culture, but the thing that sets Korean netizens apart is this cycle of entertainment shows promoting talk on the internet which is helped by portal sites like Naver, netizens going on messageboards and ranting, the media popularizing their ideas and giving them a voice.

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"I always thought and still think Jpop is more popular than Kpop among non-Asians in the West."

ANIME, yes. Everything else, no. If anything, Jpop is massively distorted in the West due to anime.

"And certainly, Chinese/Hong Kong movies are more mainstream in the US than Korean movies."

Ahhh, yes and no. Chinese/HK movies still get the most promotion, but Korea's made huge inroads into niche DVD markets. So for example, Korean dramas dominate all over Asian dramas and get distribution in mainstream chains. Korea is now #1 in the extreme cinema market, which is more K-horror gets remade here. More Korean properties are getting remade in Hollywood. You see more attempts by Korean actors to cross over (and in general, the Asian American actors that you see are nowadays 80% Korean American . . . which I'm not happy about, but that another thread.)

"We’re talking about the most popular search engines. Yahoo doesn’t even come close to the amount of usage as Google."

Right . . . but if you studied how Google approaches IT, then you know that's a Google choice. Most content portals (such as Youtube and new portsl) don't function that way. Also, Naver took some of Yahoo's SE design (Naver's design is an evolution of how 90s search engines were designed, whereas Google was a refutation away from them), and in turn Yahoo started adopting Naver's Q&A functionality.

"So if the West catches up to the rest of Asia, they’ll have crazy netizens, too?"

Well, yeah. What is Perez Hilton, if not a Netizen? What about the past year's pointless Twitter fights? Or how print journalism has been suffused by bloggers all over, many who do not subscribe whatsoever to traditional journalism ethics?

"but the thing that sets Korean netizens apart is this cycle of entertainment shows promoting talk on the internet which is helped by portal sites like Naver, netizens going on messageboards and ranting, the media popularizing their ideas and giving them a voice."

. . . Which already happens all over Asia, and is starting to happen in the States. It's a natural evolution of the Internet culture, as it starts to become the principal source of media. We're JUST starting to see it en masse with Twitter, but that's just the beginning.

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"ANIME, yes. Everything else, no. If anything, Jpop is massively distorted in the West due to anime."

Distorted or not, it's still more popular than Kpop, IMO.

"Ahhh, yes and no. Chinese/HK movies still get the most promotion, but Korea’s made huge inroads into niche DVD markets."

Niche. Specialized markets. I'm talking about the general Western audience. Average Joe in the US is more likely to see a Chinese/Hong Kong movie than a Korean one.

"More Korean properties are getting remade in Hollywood. You see more attempts by Korean actors to cross over "

Eh, maybe it's in the eye of the beholder, because I don't think those statements are true. I'd say there are just as many non-Korean, Asian movies getting remade or have already been remade in Hollywood. And who knows how many attempts to cross over there are of all Asian actors. Also, just because there may be more attempts, it doesn't mean they're all successful. So if Han Ye Seul attempts to cross over, but fails, it's not adding to Korea's "domination" in Asian pop culture in the Western world.

"Right . . . but if you studied how Google approaches IT, then you know that’s a Google choice. Most content portals (such as Youtube and new portsl) don’t function that way."

Right... but look at how many people use Google over Yahoo and let's think why? Why would the majority in the West use Google over Yahoo? I think the interface is an important factor. And the statistics show Yahoo doesn't seem to be gaining in popularity. That's why I think Google should be used to compare to Naver, and not Yahoo. Google is what the overwhelming majority is using and will probably continue using.

"Well, yeah. What is Perez Hilton, if not a Netizen? What about the past year’s pointless Twitter fights? Or how print journalism has been suffused by bloggers all over, many who do not subscribe whatsoever to traditional journalism ethics?"

And like I said, there are already crazy netizens everywhere. But I'm trying to reason how Korean netizens have the power to bring celebrities to their deaths, or drive them out of Korea. Which is why I wrote this:

...but the thing that sets Korean netizens apart is this cycle of entertainment shows promoting talk on the internet which is helped by portal sites like Naver, netizens going on messageboards and ranting, the media popularizing their ideas and giving them a voice.

". . . Which already happens all over Asia, and is starting to happen in the States. It’s a natural evolution of the Internet culture, as it starts to become the principal source of media. We’re JUST starting to see it en masse with Twitter, but that’s just the beginning."

But I highly doubt any top celebrity in the West will be driven to commit suicide because of an angry online community.

I'm still trying to understand what it is we keep going back and forth on. I agree with you that crazy netizens are everywhere. But I don't believe eventually the Western internet culture will come to the point that Korea is in now. There's internet connectedness, which is happening in Asia and the West, but there is also something else, something different in Korea that sets their netizens apart from netizens from the West or even the rest of Asia. Be it how the media treats their netizens, or the nature of Korean people, or what drives the Korean entertainment industry, but there is something evil about netizen culture in Korea that has the ability to destroy celebrities' careers and sometimes, lives.

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For the record, I think it's great that we (anyone here, even if you're only silently reading) are actually addressing the monster that is Korean netizens. Whether they are the same or different than other netizens, I think it's still good that we talk about it instead of ignoring them and brushing them under the carpet like it's done in Korea.

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"but there is also something else, something different in Korea "

Yeah, but that is where I most disagree, because I've SEEN that viciousness in other netizen cultures. Will conceded one important difference is accessibility/transparency that Korean celebs allow with their fans. That has both pro/con. Means that you have intense fangirl adoration; also means you have huge anti-behaviour. Ying/yang. But most celebs accept that now as just the natural signal-noise ratio of normal fan.

But this was too far. The issue of debt to personal owners is a HUGE problem in Korea, and that itself is a leading cause of suicide among men in Korea. Promoting that kind of rumor to her own friend's death again and again -- which is easily verified or discredited by a police investigation -- that's just sick. Pure slander.

I mean, I can't frigging believe that Joo Ji Hoon goes to jail for indulging in a little mess, YET this evil bitch gets only a big fine AFTER being originally sentenced to jail. WTH. If I'm a sociopathic anti, I now know that my hateful shit can kill off one of the most beloved people in my country, and the justice system will only slap me on the wrist. Okay.

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“but there is also something else, something different in Korea ”

...I really think what is different is the smallness of Korea vs the vastness of the US (both geographically & in cultural diversity). People really tend to overlook the enormous effects the size of a country has on its people. Like I said - the ramifications of living in a small country is something incomprehensible unless you have experienced it.

Just think about how people are living in Korea (~48million in 2008) all crammed into a country that is the size of Kentucky (which, btw has only 4million people as of 2008). In fact, South Korea is KNOWN for its population density, "which at 487 per square kilometer is more than 10 times the global average." (wiki) Koreans are LITERALLY living side by side with celebrities/all those people that are normally "untouchable" in the US. Top this off with Korea being the #1 most wired country in the WORLD. This makes everything, whether better or for worse, more accessible & personal. News travels fast and the person being gossiped about cannot just "ignore" rumors or "hide or escape" from it unless you bodily leave the country. This geographic smallness can even be attributed to the "personal connection" K-netizens require from their celebrities. And in many ways k-celebs acquiesce b/c it IS easier to be and feel close to people living right next door to you.

People in the US usually have no idea what this almost claustrophobic closeness feels like. It is truly a LUXURY to be able to move around the entire continental US and in many ways, to be your own person. The US is so big and diverse, if you don't fit in one place you can truly move and find another place in the US that is like a whole different world. This is unimaginable in homogenized, TINY Korea.

Things (like personal opinions of bloggers/netizens) are less amplified in the US b/c
1.) the hugeness of the US slows down how quickly info travels
2.) Diversity, with so many different cultures and races, it's hard to get everyone to agree with or even listen to one person
3.) professional journalism prevents single uninformed opinions from headlining (refer to previous post ^^)

This is why the US will never reach the k-netizen levels of craziness b/c...geographically it just can't happen. It has very little (if anything) to do with being Korean or Asian. This is also why comparing China and Japan to Korea is impossible - those countries are in comparison, geographically enormous and their population density is nothing compared to S.Korea's.

Put a group of people of ANY race into a tiny block of space and see what happens. Personal boundaries disintegrate, attacks become personal when made, loyalty/personal connections becomes a paramount virtue, they stick together but if one strays from the flock "gang mentality" expels them from the group....Sound familiar?

Koreans are just people, plain and simple.

***anyway, this is a very exciting topic for me and its always nice to participate in a vigorous discussion~

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This is also why comparing China and Japan to Korea is impossible – those countries are in comparison, geographically enormous and their population density is nothing compared to S.Korea’s.”

I agree . . . but then, Taiwan (which is a focal point for Sino pop culture) is SIGNIFICANTLY more dense than South Korea. And Hong Kong, another hub of gossip, has a population density comparable to Seoul. It’s not like I don’t understand what it is like.

I agree that Seoul’s the most connected city in the world, but the web wasn’t prescient until 15 years ago. And it wasn’t like this 10 years ago. The way I see it, South Korea's population density has merely sped up the adaptation and evolution of the virtual community, and it's the virtual community that people are reacting to. If tomorrow, the Internet went down in Seoul, the city will suddenly feel very big again.

“And in many ways k-celebs acquiesce b/c it IS easier to be and feel close to people living right next door to you.”

I think it’s mostly business policy from management. For example, Johnny Entertainment micromanages the information disseminated about their actor/idols. BYJ’s talent agency applies an extremely tight rope on their roster as well. Rarely do variety shows. All that affects buzz as well.

The fangirl love/antis that you see does exist in the States actually in daytime soap culture, where the actors and fans can have a very intense relationship. Newcomers, especially women, have to be accustomed to getting hate letters from anonymous female viewers who confuse their character with them. And in general, actors have to put with conspiracy theories about them influencing their characters. They do fanmeetings and often run blogs. Sometimes they get harassers and stalkers. But daytime soap culture was never mainstream, and it’s a declining demographic.

Personally, my feeling is that if every major celebrity went on Facebook and actively participated on that social networking site, Youtube and some others -- the gossip train would explode. And that would open up the instances of cyberslander and cyberstalker. I also think that will eventually happen.

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Whoever is that Baek bitch, she should commti suicide in her shower the same way Choi Jin-shil died...and moreover, she doesn't stand a chance in hell, not in her lifetime, nor in any of her future lifetimes, 그 이년...

Fining 그 이년 isn't enough for her, and even though the initial punishment is "too harsh" for them, it's not enough, too...she should bear the karmic weight of her guilt of slandering and bashing...it's no thanks to her that one of Korea's greatest actresses snuffed her life away...

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new info (been surfing at allkpop)...

that bitch wasn't alone, she had an accomplice (a 35 year old guy)...

and for a pic of the "bitch", here it is (though sadly it's pixelated... D:<)

http://www.allkpop.com.lg1x1.simplecdn.net/images/uploads/2009_stories/20090617_cjs_1.jpg

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Just because you're behind a monitor, it doesn't mean you can just post anything you want and get away with it. I don't think Korea (and its "craziness" or "smallness") should be blamed, but rather it's the individual's fault. (In fact its obvious that Korea's smallness influence this baseless rumor to amplify. )This women clearly did not know how severe her actions were, and I'm sure she's full of regret but that doesn't do much for her. She indirectly took away a life. I'm sad to see the Justice system overlooked certain details, and even went on to lessen her punishment.

My best to Choi's love ones.

Also hopefully Korea will start seeing their fault in controlling the internet blabber, and fix this. Because history does tend to repeat itself, sadly.

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