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‘Robot Cha Du-ri’ and ‘Cha-vatar’

Posted June. 16, 2010 13:26,   


Koreans have nicknamed Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho “alien” because they thought his unique gummy smile and outstanding foot skills are inhuman. A photo comparing the striker, who was dropped from the Brazilian national team for the World Cup in South Africa, with Jar Jar Binks from the movie “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” is circulating on the Internet. If one looks at the picture thinking Ronaldinho resembles an alien, he really seems as such.

The rumor that South Korean defender Cha Du-ri, who was outstanding in the team’s 2-0 win over Greece Saturday, is not human but a robot seems plausible as much as the rumor that Ronaldinho is an alien. The evidence presented is hilarious: the initials “D R Cha” on his back mean Dr. Cha created him and since he has no hair, he takes in sunlight very well. The funniest reasoning is that his father Cha Bum-kun, a soccer color commentator for SBS, grows quiet because he has to concentrate on controlling his son’s robot when his son gets the ball. Another tall tale is that Cha Du-ri’s former number 11 was a plug for battery recharging, and his number 22 in the tournament is due to an upgrade to 220 volts. How funny.

The rumor on Cha Du-ri implies a compliment to his enormous stamina and positive mindset. Net users who know his father and are careful about complimenting his son have a great wit and imagination. The rumor on the Cha Du-ri robot, whose creator remains unknown, has evolved to produce another rumor on “Chavatar”; that is Cha Du-ri is his father’s avatar and even a robot design. Cha Du-ri seems to not mind the rumors, saying, “People seem to find it funny and laugh.”

For the younger generation, the Internet is an interesting playground and a communication tool. The rumor on the robot is a collective creature made by the innovative ideas of many. Fun and participation are the characteristics of the Web generation. When the Internet plays a positive role, interesting things are created but when it plays a negative role, it serves as the origin of rumors such as those on the sinking of the Cheonan. After the ruling Grand National Party’s defeat in the June 2 local elections, the presidential office appointed an “online” spokesman. The party will also reinforce its political activities through Twitter. If politicians want to grow closer to the younger generation, they should know the characteristics of the Internet generation rather than use a political engineering approach.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)