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Stricter punishment for cyber defamation

Posted December. 18, 2013 03:23,   


As prosecutors started to investigate celebrities for prostitution, a list began to circulate on social networking sites such as KakaoTalk. People are passing around the groundless list for fun, but those who are on the list are hit hard. Celebrities who were on the list asked prosecutors and police to punish those who spread false rumors.

Anonymous slanderous threads containing false information and personal attacks are silent guns. Particularly, celebrities are easy targets. They are well known to the public and their good looks and wealth often make people jealous. Even some people hate them. As they live on popularity, they cannot easily charge someone for spreading false information on them. This encourages people to keep writing slanderous threads. U;nee, a singer, killed herself in January 2007, due to negative comments on her, and Jeong Da-bin, an actress who was rumored to have plastic surgery, committed suicide in Feb. 2007, and Choi Jin-sil, a popular actress, in October 2008. This shows the ramification of slanderous comments.

The Cyber Defamation Law (a.k.a. the Choi Jin-sil Act) was legislated in Korea after the actress’s suicide. Slanderous comments did not disappear, however, because people are not heavily punished. Under the Penal Code, those who post false information on the Internet and defame a person can be sentenced up to seven years in prison and 50 million won in fine (47,500 in U.S. dollars). Punishment was weak because most of those who leave negative comments were teenagers or those in their early 20s and committed crime for the first time.

It is a step in the right direction that celebrities started to prosecute those who spread false information on them, instead of staying passive. Baek Ji-young, a singer, said she would not tolerate an internet user who ridiculed her miscarriage. Slanderous threads can disappear if victims’ firm stance and the court’s strict ruling are combined.