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Why the Big Blockage

Okay, I have a question.

See, the Korean government put a block on popular blogsites like and livejournal in order to prevent access to the kinds of blogs that post links to such things. They couldn’t be bothered to only penalize the sites who posted such links, so instead they simply blocked ALL blogspot and livejournal sites. (And who knows what else.)

I don’t understand, then, why popular Korean blog sites like Naver’s or igloos are up. I mean, I can see Lime’s blog, over at Naver, without any difficulty. And my old friend Nam Suk’s egloos site is working fine too.

Wait, isn’t this just a ban on English-language blogs, then? This makes little or no sense. After all, most Koreans can’t read English—believe me, I know this from several years of experience. So what the hell is the point of banning English blogs, but leaving all the Korean ones accessible?

Is it a racist assumption that only foreigners would be so despicable as to post links to the beheading video? Maybe… after all, the Korean media was racist enough to air footage from beheadings of non-Koreans with little or no worry about the damaging effects of seeing such a thing. Non-Koreans are, after all, well, just not Korean. Watching them get beheaded is news… or entertainment… or, whatever, just bring in those ratings.

But when it’s a Korean being beheaded, Good Lord. Not only must we protect our people from seeing that—why, is a question I’ll turn to in a few moments—but we must stop evil English-speaking foreigners from polluting the Korean psyche with this wickedness. Yes, there are some anglophone Koreans who use blogspot and livejournal, to be sure. But the fact is, in the bulk, it was mainly foreigners’ blogs who were blocked within Korea, and the majority of Koreans’ blogs have gone unblocked. This, of course, is an ages-old Korean mentality, the fear of the foreigner as outsider, as polluter and bring of things that ought not be brought.

But I want to turn back to the question above, of why the Korean government should desire to prevent Korean citizens from seeing the beheading video of Kim Il-Seon. Is it because watching beheading videos is sick? If that were the case, I should think that all of the previous videos would also have been blocked, and Nick Berg’s murder would have been as unviewable in Korea as Kim’s.

That clearly was not the case. I’ve heard that Berg’s video was in part shown on television here.

Is it because the government wants to protect the family of Kim from the horror, shock, and grief of knowing that people nationwide have watched agog, seen their child murdered, downloaded videos of it and even gotten off in some sick way by watching it?

That’s possible, but a very weak argument. Since when have you ever heard of a government putting a major internet block up to spare one family from shock, horror, and anguish? Usually, governments just don’t even think about such a thing, and it’s unlikely that this country would do so. Or, rather, I think it’s very unlikely that the Korean government has this motivation.

Rather, I suspect the following. Koreans have a strong sense of 우리, which means “us”, or “we Koreans”… well, contextually that’s true, anyway. You don’t see a lot of the filthy rich minority acting on this supposedly universal 우리 instinct by supporting charities or movements for socioeconomic reform in the country, of course. But it seems to me that when Koreans get pissed off, they do tend to have a strong sense of 우리.

Why should the state of being pissed off matter to this? Well, you see, the people of Korea are pretty annoyed with the government right now. After the whole Roh impeachment fiasco (and all of the popular opposition to it), and the (somewhat underdstandable, and somewhat incomprehensible) negative sentiment against the American soldiers who remain here, Korea’s faced with another distasteful issue: South Korea’s dependence on American military support also necessitates Korea being a military ally of the USA.

So could it be that, as Oranckay reports, as Oranckay reports,

Kim desperately calls on President Roh Moo Hyun to get Korean troops out of Iraq, and he does so in English. Naturally, he says it like he means it and you almost wonder if that’s one of the reasons the government is trying so hard to block internet access to overseas sites where it can be downloaded.

Considering how angry some people I know are about this situation to begin with (including Lime, who posted a screed about—as far as I can tell—Korea’s dependence on and implication in The American Project), I imagine that might just explain the eagerness to block all access to the video.

Then again, Oranckay, at least in June, was suggesting that the some of the blockage problem may not have been the Korean government’s doing, but that of someone at the company KT. Which would be even more frightening: an overzealous company staffer blocking access to a whole host of websites abroad? Isn’t there legislation against that?

Oh, yeah. Probably not.

I was starting to think that the Korean bloggers ought to get together and get an account somewhere, so they can all co-host their various blogs on one webspace, free from the hassle of blockage like this. But the problem, you see, is that all blogspot sites are blocked. This is ridiculous, because it means even blogs that have nothing to do with Korea or the beheading video are blocked from us.

I wonder how much longer this will stay this way. Charlie recently suggested to me the block might never be lifted, and the shock and bad feeling I had made me think it’s not so implausible.

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