Some netizens are waging a “cyber terror” campaign against a 35-year-old female middle-school teacher found to have had an inappropriate relationship with a pupil by spreading photos of her and other private information in cyberspace.[...]What's hypocritical is that the Times then goes on to repeat much of the information spread about her (and give exact web addresses of sites with information about her). It then gives several recent examples of such "Cyber Terror":
They copied her photos, the name of her workplace, family background and other information, and uploaded them onto Internet community sites, such as DC Inside (www.dcinside.com) and Netizen Crime Scene Investigators (www.nsiclub.com).
Netizens also posted the photos and other personal data of the indecent teacher on their websites and blogs, enabling a larger number of Internet users to view her private information.
It is not the first time a group of Internet users have invaded the privacy of certain individuals. A while ago, a female university student in Seoul called short men “losers” in a popular TV program. Many netizens were furious about her comment and began searching for her name, the name of her school and other private information. They spread what they found all over cyberspace and the female student became public enemy No. 1.The article ends with a call for the government to "oblige all Internet users to write comments and engage in other online activities under their real names." This is hardly surprising, as this was the response to the incident which first drew attention to "cyber terror", the "dog poop girl" incident of June 2005. That incident was used to justify the 'real name system' which had been suggested two years earlier, as I mentioned here. Here are posts I wrote back in 2005 about this:
In another incident, when another female college student was filmed cursing a middle-aged cleaning woman on campus, many Internet users disclosed her personal data in cyberspace, including the occupations of her parents.
Internet Witchhunts and Conflict Resolution
Riding the wave of 'cyber terror' articles
'Real Names' in Korean Cyberspace
Portals and the Cyber Terror blame game
What was interesting was that when incidents of "cyber terror" were described in the media as the concept was being constructed, one incident did not get much mention, even though it had taken place just a few months earlier, and had been covered as an "invasion of privacy": The English Spectrum incident, where netizens tracked down the women who had appeared in photos with foreign English teachers at a sexy costume party and hounded them.
This had happened many times before, but for some reason the dog poop girl was the straw that broke the camel's back. In November 2000, a video clip of hit singer Baek Ji Young was spread on the internet and ruined her career. As Time reported, 'A typical Net posting reads: "Is Baek Ji Young a prostitute who gave up being a decent human being?"'
Baek wasn't the only singer to have her career ruined in such a way; in November 2007 Ivy was blackmailed by an ex-boyfriend who threatened to expose a sex tape (which never turned up). As reported at the time,
The Ivy scandal began to take off about three weeks ago. Since then, many netizens, boastful of their information-gathering prowess, have posted messages online gossiping about another man Ivy was supposedly involved with, passing judgment on her purported affairs, and even suggesting she should be beaten for being a "bad girl." Others simply want to know where they can buy the sex tape. Some Internet media outlets, eager for wider audiences, have posted such stories as if they are truthful.In short time Ivy went from a top singer to no singing career (but has acted on TV since), and also suffered the indignity of being sued:
A cosmetics company on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against its spokesmodel, the pop singer Ivy. The company claims Ivy's lies and scandal-plagued private life have tarnished the company's brand image, as cosmetics are greatly dependent on the image of their spokesmodels. [...] The company is demanding that the singer's agency pay W500 million in compensation, double what it paid to her.Before the lawsuit against Ivy, a similar one had occurred in 2004 against Choi Jin-sil, who was a spokesperson for Shinhan until she revealed her bruised face after being beaten by her husband, and the company successfully sued her for damaging their reputation. The result of an appeal was in Shinhan's favor, but came not too long after Choi had killed herself, perhaps in part due to malicious rumors spread by netizens. And while one can understand the company in this case wanting to get their money back from a model that went AWOL, did they really need to reveal things about her personal life and refer to her "promiscuity"?
Netizens also attacked model Kim Daul for posing partly nude, who criticized the attacks on her blog (but who also later committed suicide).
In more recent cases,
Top actress Kim Hee-sun is getting furious reactions from Internet users who criticized her for an “inappropriate” scarf [dotted with skulls] that she wore while paying her respects to the late Andre Kim.Most recently we had the case of the "luxury girl", or Korea's "Paris Hilton," who was the subject of a netizen assault:
Meanwhile, TV show anchor Song Ji-hyo’s laugh over her own pronunciation mistake, while covering Andre Kim’s death on an SBS entertainment program, also created controversy among netizens whether it should have been avoided.
Her bragging caused a huge stir on the Internet and irked many. And a question was raised among netizens whether the girl, now famously known as the “400-milliion-won luxury girl,” is subject to any gift taxes.And then there was this case of two women in 2006 who were interviewed by Sisa Journal, which then inserted the interviews into a negative article about "doenjang nyeo", or bean paste girls, a term that had become popular to describe vain girls obsessed with brand names:
Following the episode, the National Tax Service (NTS)’s website was bombarded with articles by angry citizens, who called for an intense tax audit of her parents.
The article identified them by their full real names, and published clear photos of them sipping coffee.By now it should be pretty clear what the gender of the victims in these cases was. While there have been cases of men being harassed by netizens, most of those cases involved already-known public figures. When it comes to netizens going after previously anonymous victims and digging up as much as possible about them (including posting their phone numbers and emails and information about their families), the targets have overwhelmingly been female. Part of me cynically wants to ask, "What better use for the internet than to use it to slap around young women, who are getting a bit uppity these days?"
The women had little idea what would happen when the article was released on the magazine’s Internet edition. The two were bombarded with online comments about “how vain” they were and that they were good examples of how some thoughtless girls could “wring money out of their rich parents to waste it abroad.”
Internet users then got hold of more photos of the two and plastered them over the Internet bulletin boards and passed the photos around over online chat programs, denouncing them as typical doenjang-nyeo types that all men should beware of.
Shocked by the responses and frightened by threats they received, the two went to the Press Arbitration Commission to demand an official apology from the magazine, and said they were planning to file suit demanding compensation for “mental damages.”
This column by a female writer at the Chosun Ilbo, about Ivy's experience in 2007, is even more bitter:
This phenomenon stands in sharp contrast to cases involving male celebrities. Sex scandals involving men are seldom exposed. And even if photographs are posted to the Internet showing them lying on beds in hotel rooms, they can still enjoy high popularity. [...]The fact that the targets of such "cyber terror" are overwhelmingly women is the elephant in the room which is not even mentioned in the Korea Times article at the top of this post. This isn't something I've delved into in the Korean language press to research - has anyone noticed this being discussed there at all?
If we'd like to be realistic, we ought to give the following advice to women who might suffer similar scandals in the future: Give up your belief in social justice where the bad guys are punished, hand over your money whenever you're threatened, sit still for your beatings and never forget just what sort of society you're stuck with.