Eleven Netizens have been booked without detention for spreading malicious comments about the actress Kim Tae-hee on the web.
On June 3 an article titled “Kim Tae-hee Heads to U.S. for One Month of Language Study” ran in the news section of a portal site. Surprisingly, it prompted Netizens to unleash a storm of personal attacks on the star. “She’s headed off to get an abortion,” one comment read. “She’s getting married to Goh Hyun-jeong’s ex-husband,” surmised another. Kim’s agency accused 34 individuals of defamation and reported them to the Seoul Metropolitan Police’s cyber crime unit.
Police say those who posted the slanderous comments include university students, designers and drivers. One of the accused told police they had just overheard high school girls gossiping about the issue while on the bus, and to kill time had thoughtlessly posted the message on the Net. “Netizens for the most part don’t realize that they will be punished for posting slanderous replies and do so without giving much though to it,” a police spokesman said. “But if the victim so decides, even posts made in jest can become a cause for punishment.”
So far this year, people have been punished for posting similarly negative comments about the singer Rain, Lim Su-kyung, who in her college year shocked the entire nation by entering North Korea via East Berlin to participate in Pyongyang International Festival in July 1989 as a leader of a student organization, and former Seoul mayor Lee Myung-bak. Posting and dispersing falsehoods on the Net that defame another individual can be punished by up to seven years in prison and fines of up to W50 million (US$1=W956).