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Online Accusation Targets Middle School Teacher

Posted June. 11, 2008 08:20,   


A Web posting on an Internet community yesterday targeted a middle school history teacher who allegedly praised the resumption of U.S. beef imports.

The person who posted the allegation also gave out the teacher’s name, school and cell phone number, urging others to gag the teacher by making protest calls to the teacher and the school.

Once the post was put on the community’s forum, the school and teacher were inundated with angry calls and cursing text messages. The teacher canceled his cell phone service yesterday afternoon.

Comments blasting the teacher continued to be posted, but one anonymous individual urged that no harm come to the teacher, calling the accusation undemocratic cyber-terrorism.

Another individual who said he was a student at the teacher’s school said, “Our teacher just wanted to calm down fear in students over U.S. beef. The posting distorted the whole story.”

But pleas for calm went unheeded.

Meeting with a Dong-A Ilbo reporter yesterday, the teacher appeared shocked and opted not to comment.

A co-worker of the teacher said, “I read the allegation and it’s completely unfounded. Nobody has bothered to check the truth. All they seem to focus on is attacking [the teacher]. We cannot teach anything to our students.”

Another student at the school said, “Yes, the teacher talked about beef, but he did not support importing American beef. Our friends and other students admire him. He is an enthusiastic teacher. We’re all shocked that this false accusation was posted on the Internet.”

Hyeon Tae-soo, a sociology professor at Korea University in Seoul, said, “This personal attack and the ensuing witch hunt against a person’s integrity is an unforgivable act. It’s public abuse in the name of democracy.”

“Regardless of punishment for the accuser, the accused has received a type of death sentence. We have to do something fundamental enough to root out the harm caused by the anonymous majority.”

alwaysj@donga.com newsman@donga.com