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Illegal file sharing websites shut down by government

July 11,2018

A total of 12 illegal file sharing websites based overseas, including one of the nation’s biggest webtoon pages Bamtokki, have been shut down, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced during a briefing held at the government complex in central Seoul on Tuesday.

In response to a rising number of copyright infringements, the Culture Ministry, Korea Communications Commission (KCC) and Korean National Police Agency (KNPA) formed a task force in May to crack down on illegal file sharing sites in order to prevent the illegal distribution of webtoons, films, and television shows. The task force will continue to work until later this month.

In the crackdown, the government uncovered 12 illegal pirate websites that are based abroad and target local users. The operators of eight sites, including two popular webtoon pages Bamtokki and Jangsisi, will face legal action.

The illegal downloading sites attracted users to their web page by illegally duplicating copyrighted materials, and made money through advertisements on their web page.

After the illegal websites were shut down, traffic to legal content platforms like Naver Webtoon temporarily spiked, but the numbers dropped again following the creation of alternate websites.

To prevent people from searching for alternate illegal downloading websites, the government will continue monitoring the web for the next two to three years. More officials tasked with tracking illegal downloading hosts will be hired.

“To get the desired result, it will take two to three years of intense crackdowns and the joint efforts of relevant authorities,” an official from the Culture Ministry said. “Since crackdowns aren’t enough, we are planning to unveil a national campaign in the second half of this year.”

Through the campaign, the government hopes to spread the knowledge to the general public that illegal downloading is just as serious a crime as distributing copyrighted content online.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]