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Protesters Threaten Merchants With Witch-hunt

Posted July. 29, 2008 03:18,   


The People`s Association for Measures against Mad Cow Disease has posted a copy of a class action lawsuit filed with the Seoul Central District Court by a group of merchants running businesses near Gwanghwamun on its Web site since Friday, causing damage to the involved merchants.

In response, the “Special Committee to Help Sound Protest Culture Settle in the Nation and Provide Legal Support for Innocent Victims of Candlelight Protests,” which lodged the complaint on behalf of the merchants, has decided to take a legal action against the left-leaning group, saying, “It was an act of cyber terrorism and similar to the threats made against the advertisers of major newspapers.”

As of Monday, the names and addresses of shop owners running businesses around Gwanghwamun were completely exposed on the anti-U.S. beef organization’s Web site. The posting reads, “The people’s association reveals the compensation claim letter in order to better inform more people about this fact.”

More than 30 comments posted on the article openly criticized the shop owners in as if they were being tried in the people`s court. “If you search the plaintiffs’ addresses on the Internet, you will be able to find most of their businesses’ names,” said an online user. “When I looked up the first 10 names of the 115 people on the list, I was able to locate all, including the business names, telephone numbers and homepage addresses, for up to seven people. Good luck to your business, plaintiffs!” the user wrote.

Another online user also spoke in a threatening tone, “Make a list for me, please. I will stage a one-man protest in front of each store to make sure their businesses go down really bad.”

The exposure of personal information has caused further worries to the merchants. “On Saturday, some of the candlelight protesters came to my shop to take pictures and blocked customers by sitting on the stairs,” said one of the merchants who filed the complaint. “What if they find out our telephone number and obstruct the business?”

Another shop owner who asked to be only identified as Kim also said, “I was reluctant to participate in the lawsuit in case this kind of thing might happen. I heard that even the names and addresses were revealed to the public. I can’t stop worrying about a further drop in sales.”

“The people`s association is practically suggesting boycotting goods from Gwanghwamun merchants,” said lawyer Lee Heon of the committee. “We will send an official letter and request to delete the posting. Such an action is against the telecommunications law and can be seen as a cyber crime and defamation case, such as the recent threats made against major newspapers and advertisers.” “I will submit it as a reference material for this ongoing case since I believe it can be grounds for more compensation.”

Meanwhile, the cause of the exposure is still unclear. According to the special committee, the exposed copy of the lawsuit was part of the material submitted to the court on Thursday. The list of merchants, included in an annexed paper, was submitted on July 17.

“It seems that someone inside the court informed others, or the people’s association could have received it by pretending to be a plaintiff,” said Lee. “As we did not submit it in a file format, somebody must have typed it.”