Over the last few years I’ve been trying to understand why so many Koreans seem to support the idea that Korea needs top-down censorship and top-down elimination of anonymity online.
They often cite the abhorrent behaviour of “Korean netizens” as evidence, with the Dog Poop Girl cited as a minor example and the suicides of many pop stars who were criticized online as major evidence of the cruelty and need for firmer controls online. (Michael has a post up that pretty much says the same thing I’ve been saying since I first encountered this weird rationalization: that a pop star could be forced into suicide by public criticism online, though with less emphasis on the problems of net censorship and this silly — and quite arguably unconstitutional — Real-Name System so many are excited about and supportive of, with the mistaken perception that it will essentially banish online abuse, while not minding that it also seems to be (selectively) banishing online anonymity in Korea.) When they talk about and criticize the depraved “netizens,” you get the feeling they thing these are rabid teenagers and young adults with no life, badly adjusted and cut off from society; people who need to be muzzled for peace to rule.
Perhaps they should think again, if they think the problem will be solved that way. A character going by the pseudonym “Smile” posted some pretty extreme comments on various Daum-administered web pages; similarly nasty comments have been made by someone “Smile” on Naver blogs, including a web cafe for housewives (with 660,000+ members) posting about their furniture purchases and home decorating tips; a brief glance made the nature of those comments pretty obvious even to me, for I could pick out the Korean words for several extreme cuss words, especially “fuck,” and heavy use of the word “balgaengi” which means “Commie” but is closer in tone to “fucking Commie” or something. There was also at least one personal threat mad, on the order of, “I’m gonna call the cops on your for posting false information online!” (But with more colorful language.)
Well, someone eventually did a little investigating by, well, er, clicking on the link on the pseudonym “Smile” and found something interesting about this raving, seemingly lunatic, foul-mouthed and threatening “netizen” jerk’s ID. It linked directly to the homepage of a Congressman by the name of Shim Jae Chul. (Here’s his webpage, currently mostly shut down though you can see the front page, where his hobbies are listed as Ham [Radio, apparently], playing the saxophone, traveling, and reading. He doesn’t mention netizen rants, however, and it’s important to note — for legal purposes, mainly — that the link might be a coincidence, an artifact of the fact someone else is using the same pseudonym, or something. I’m not totally sure how that link could have appeared, but anyway, nobody’s totally, 100% sure it’s him, even given the bizarre similarity in comments between the Daum user known as “Smile” and the Naver user who goes by “Smile.”)
But, actually, a lot of people seem to feel sure about it. Citizens are showing their disapproval by sending him money, via online bank transfer. They’re sending 18 won, or 1,818 won — the equivalent of of a couple of pennies, or a couple of bucks in the latter case, but with the verbal pun that the Korean word for “18” [ship pal] is a pun because it sounds the same as the word for “fuck” [sshipal] — and they’re requesting him to special-deliver him a receipt for the payment. Special delivery costs 10,000 — about $10 — so donations to him are a net loss; the point being that the law requires him to send a receipt of any political donation, and that the cost of special deliveries come out of his government-allotted expense account.
So far, approximately 20,000 people have sent him a “fuck-you donation”, and his phones have been ringing constantly from calls by people demanding their receipts be sent special delivery… So it looks like it’s bye-bye expense account.
One article about these events quipped, in the title, on how he was getting “paid” for his “part time job.”