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Cyberbullying is a crime

Dec 12,2019
CHUN SU-JIN
The author is an acting deputy head of the international team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

I am scared of emails with the subject title “Thank you for your hard work.” Some people with a certain political inclination use this “phishing” title to criticize me.

I always get these emails when I write articles on North Korea, Korea-Japan relations and the possible withdrawal of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK). Then, I feel the excellence of the Korean language for having such a variety of curse words.

How about celebrities? In the overflowing news, it is regrettable that the shock of celebrity deaths is fading, but I pray for Choi Jin-ri and Koo Ha-ra, the late K-pop stars and actresses.

Not so long after their deaths, even Pengsoo, a popular penguin character, began getting malicious comments.

It is ludicrous that many trolls write malicious comments without giving much thought. In a survey by Incruit and Do It Survey in October, 5 percent of 3,162 respondents said they had an experience of posting malicious comments. Fifty-five percent said it was out of anger, 16 percent blamed jealousy and envy. Fifteen percent said they wrote it to relieve stress, and 9 percent said it was a simple prank.

So, one in five trolls hid behind anonymity to relieve stress or have fun. I don’t expect some noble vision or thorough analysis on the fate of the nation or Nobel Prize in Literature-worthy expressions from internet trolls, but this is too much.

Malicious online comments have become a global concern. Former U.S. President Barack Obama expressed opposition to the “cancel culture” of cyberbullying last month. Prince William of the United Kingdom has been leading an anti-cyberbullying campaign since 2017. Reporters Without Borders published a report on the harm of malicious comments. One third of the reporters in Sweden and Finland said they suffered from malicious comments.

British journalist Jon Ronson wrote a book titled “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” about cases of online scandals and their devastating consequences.

He interviewed not only the victims but the internet trolls as well. Most trolls said they did not know how things would blow up or that they wouldn’t have done the same if they knew the victims in person.

Cyberbullying is a crime that can take away a person’s life. So I welcome the relay campaign to ban trolling on Facebook.

I want to conclude with a posting on the relay. “From now on, I acknowledge that those whose thoughts are not the same as mine are not wrong but different, I will try to see more strengths than weaknesses in them, and I pledge to communicate in warm words.”

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 11, Page 32