korean-netizens   5

Female Idols Drinking in the Public Eye – seoulbeats
To humanize idols, some have gone on-camera intoxicated for promotional purposes. For example, the Wonder Girls performed their 2016 single, “Why So Lonely,” under the influence. Dingo has several other tipsy videos dating back only a year, starting with Roy Kim. It’s a rather new phenomenon and only five girl groups have featured out of about the 20 tipsy videos.

In the video, Hyerim appears completely out of it. She’s at the point she’s barely audible and barely participates. Sunmi is on the same planet as Hyerim. She flails around unconventionally to the music as Yubin and Yeeun carry the song.

The video was seen as cute by much of the commenters on the video — and it is hard to deny the cuteness of a drunk Sunmi. Part of the acceptance of their inebriation might lie in the Wonder Girls’ legacy throughout the years. It also gave the fans a chance to see the girls perform in a completely new setting. In this case, it was in a warm environment with a recognizable brand of soju and the women obviously have their guard down. It wasn’t something fans got a chance to see on a daily basis, and for many groups, fans never get to see their idols with their guards let down like this.

...The way female and male idols interact with alcohol can paint the elements of a patriarchal history in South Korea. Searching through the Entertainment section of Naver or Nate for “party,” “partying,” and “drink” brings up very few hits of male controversies. In fact, the biggest one seems to be of actor Im Changjung. His “crime”? His then-pregnant wife picked him up from the bar. Female idols post on Instagram while intoxicated and face backlash; on the contrary, male idols generally only face controversy when they’re doing something as life-threatening as drunk driving like Super Junior’s Kangin and Lee Seung Chul.

The influence drinking has on Korean culture and entertainment is undoubted. It’s okay for female idols to talk about themselves drinking in the comfort of their rooms; it’s acceptable and cute to use soju as a beauty product. It’s especially okay for females to advertise alcohol to a primarily older, male market. Female idols, in fact, make up the bulk of soju advertisements. IU, the most notable, has advertised for soju brand Chamisul for years. It was figure skater, Kim Yoona‘s advertisements for Hite that finally prompted the South Korean government to step in in an attempt outlaw celebrities under the age of 24 from advertising alcohol in the media; not because of the overly sexualized nature of the advertisements, but because they gave the impression it was cool for young people — especially young women — to drink.

There is a clear double standard in how women and men are able to interact in the public spotlight when alcohol is involved. Women are expected to behave a certain way, and for young, female idols, those expectations include endorsing alcohol, but not publicly consuming it. These spokesmodel idols are portrayed as pure and something to strive for, and alcohol consumption doesn’t fit in that equation. Instead, they are asked to hold up the bottles and look enticing, while the men handle the actual drinking.
K-pop  Korean-alcohol  soju  soju-advertisements  Korean-entertainment-companies  Korean-netizens  Korean-celebrities 
january 2019 by thegrandnarrative
Debriefing: Korea’s problem with portals-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily
Korea’s leading internet portal, Naver, is changing its news section and the manner in which people can comment on stories after a scandal involving a power blogger known by Druking. He and his team were revealed last month to have tried manipulating public opinion about the Moon Jae-in administration by posting comments and “liking” stories on Naver.

Here are the basics to this ongoing social phenomenon: the portalization of Korea’s internet.



Q. Why is Naver’s news service getting so much attention?

Because it’s so powerful. Surveys show that more than 70 percent of Koreans use portal sites like Naver and Daum as their main news source. Naver has a 66 percent share of portal news readers and Daum 22 percent, according to a study last year from the Korea Press Foundation.

. What is a portal?

A portal site, or web portal, is an internet page that brings information from various sources - news, email, online communities - and shows parts of them all on a main page along with a search bar. As reflected in the word “portal,” they are gateways to online information and services. Before browsers like Internet Explorer became popular in the West, people used portals like AOL or CompuServe to access the World Wide Web and the internet. Even in the early part of this century, many people in the West relied on a Yahoo! homepage to navigate the Net. Yahoo! was the most popular web portal before its fall in the 2010s.

Nowadays, the search engine Google is the dominant IT giant in most countries, set as a homepage by many across the United States, Europe and other regions worldwide. Unlike portals that show various sections, search engines have a much simpler first page that only shows a search bar. Search engines send you to other parts of the internet: they don’t keep you in their ecosystem as portals do.

In Korea, most people set Naver or Daum as their homepage for when they access their internet browsers. Naver and Daum process nearly 90 percent of web searches by Korean users, far exceeding Google.

After the advent of smartphones, portal sites’ mobile apps arose as Koreans’ main method of navigating the internet beyond the PC.



Q. How do portals keep users in their ecosystems?

In the case of news, Google offers direct links to news organizations’ websites for each story, which is known as the outlink system.

In contrast, Korea’s portals host news stories inside their website - the inlink system - even though the news is produced by someone else, like a newspaper or broadcast network. Aside from the article itself, the news comes with a comments section below, which is run by the portal, not by the provider of the story.

It so happens that Koreans love commenting on news, sometimes with great passion and even malice, and this is a recurring source of controversy.

Based on an unknown algorithm, portal sites also curate articles that appear on their homepages - a decision that can widen or restrict the number of viewers by the thousands.



Q. Why did Naver make the recent changes?

The Druking scandal was the direct cause, but Naver has known the sensitivity of the issue for a long time.

Although portals are not supposed to have connections to political parties or companies, there have been allegations that news sections can be influenced by corporate and political forces. In October, Naver was found to have bowed to corporate pressure to intentionally bury a news story critical of the Korean football league.

Outside forces also try to manipulate the news portals run and the comments beneath the stories. The National Intelligence Service (NIS) employed teams to upload online comments before the 2012 presidential election. The aim was to sway voters in favor of Park Geun-hye, a candidate from then-President Lee Myung-bak’s party.

The NIS and Druking scandals were both organized acts of online manipulation with links to the ruling party. The NIS is accused of having used 6.9 billion won ($6.3 million) of government funds for the online campaign between 2009 and 2012. Druking was a registered member of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and was later found in a police investigation to have exchanged phone messages with DP lawmaker Kim Kyoung-soo, who is a close confidant of President Moon Jae-in.

Facebook was embroiled in a similar controversy earlier this year, the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The U.K. company collected personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users, which was later used allegedly to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the 2016 Brexit referendum in the U.K.



Q. Can online comments actually sway political opinions?

Whether such attempts can actually affect people’s political views or behavior like voting remains debatable. Academics say there needs to be more scientific research to define a direct correlation between online manipulation attempts using comments and actual changes in political views or behavior.

But most media experts agree that portal sites are politically influential because of their agenda-setting power. The news that appears on portal homepages decides what the public talks about or perceives as important among all the incidents of that day.



Q. What are the main changes to Naver’s news section?

The most radical is Naver’s decision to adopt an outlink system like Google. Starting from the third quarter, news outlets can request Naver to stop hosting their news stories as inlinks and offer direct links to each outlet’s homepage.

This means giving up its rights to curate articles in the news section: News outlets will be choosing and curating their own news stories on Naver’s news platform.

Before, the portal signed contracts with select news organizations to feature articles on Naver’s website. The comments box and buttons representing readers’ reactions were also part of the news article page - all functions that kept users coming in. The portal will also remove the news section and a box showing 20 trending keywords from the homepage of the mobile app.

In regard to comments sections, there have been two rounds of changes in the past two months.

On April 25, Naver imposed limits on the number of comments that can be submitted by a single account on a particular article per day, to three from a previous 20. Users also were forced to wait at least one minute between posting comments, up from 10 seconds, to prevent use of automatic software such as macros.

On May 9, Naver restricted the use of multiple IDs by a single user - a method used by political opinion manipulators. The police have revealed that Druking and his team used over 2,000 IDs - most fake - to “like” certain comments that criticized the Moon Jae-in administration, thus elevating the comments’ positions below the article and raising their exposure to the public. It also announced that starting from the third quarter, media outlets will decide the way comments are aligned for their articles.



Q. Have online comments been subject to other types of criticism?

Malicious comments targeting specific groups or individuals have been a problem from the start of the internet in Korea. The comments often spread fake rumors - and can lead to tragedy.

In 2010, rapper Tablo of the group Epic High was accused by online trolls of having faked his academic background and his two degrees from Stanford University. The claims against Tablo continued even after the Korea JoongAng Daily printed his entire Stanford transcript. Whatbecomes, the online nickname of the man that led the campaign against Tablo, uploaded false rumors about the singer and other celebrities in Naver’s news comments section for years. He was ultimately revealed to be a 57-year-old Korean-American surnamed Kim, reportedly living in Chicago.

Online comments are often associated with cyberbullying as well. In 2016, a public official in his 50s was temporarily suspended from his job after writing news comments that ridiculed the victim of a gang rape in Sinan County, South Jeolla. He wrote comments that blamed the victim, a teacher of the three assailants’ children, saying the fault was hers for drinking with them.



Q. Has Naver tried to change its comment section before?

Naver tried many times.

When the news comments box was first launched in 2004, the comments were in the order in which they came in. Two years later, Naver allowed users to “recommend” comments, which affected their order in the box: Comments with more recommendations rose in position. And then people with political and other intentions began using recommendations as a tool to manipulate opinions.

In 2007, it was made mandatory for portals to verify the identity of any users who wanted to leave comments. But the so-called real-name verification law was abolished in 2012 after the Constitutional Court ruled against it. Naver raised the number of per-day comments per person to 20 from 10.

In 2015, Naver added “like” and “dislike” buttons on each news comment, and that affected the order of the comments in the boxes, too.

Last year, Naver introduced a new function to hide malicious comments that users asked to be taken down.

It changed the method of arranging comments again, this time giving options to users: to base the order on the net number of likes, how recent the comments are or depending on the proportion of likes to dislikes.



Q. Are there other countries where portals are so powerful?

Yes. In Japan, Yahoo! still ranks as the most popular portal. Like Naver and Daum, it shows selected news on its homepage but the articles offered at the site are mostly straight articles or breaking news. Media outlets can choose whether or not to have a comment box below their articles.

The largest portal sites in China are Sina.com and Sohu but Chinese people’s favorite go-to for web searches is Baidu - a search engine similar to Google. Russians use Yandex.


BY SEO… [more]
Korean-internet  Korean-media  Naver  Korean-news  Korean-netizens 
june 2018 by thegrandnarrative
Druking? The bigger problems are portals and the very possibility of opinion manipulation – The Dissolve
Naver has responded to such incidents by limiting the number of comments one user can write per day (20 comments) and adopting a CAPTCHA program (which requires humans to decipher letters/numbers in order to prove they are humans and not bots) that activates when multiple log ins are detected from the same IP address or when the same comments are repeatedly posted. In addition, Naver plans to include a provision on “automated comments” in its terms of use, starting on May 1. A Naver official announced, “If the results of the investigation reveal a new macro technique, we will address it.” Realistically, however, technical responses are never perfect. Creating macro programs is not difficult, and it is possible for new techniques to surface every time Naver changes its policy.

Then what do they need to do? Maeil Business News emphasized the necessity for the “internet real name verification system” through an op-ed piece titled “The Minjoo Party member’s online opinion rigging scandal once again arouses the need for a real name comment system”. With the National Assembly member Jang Je-won of the Liberty Korea Party having proposed a bill for such a system, this controversy seems sure to influence the passing of the bill. However, the Constitutional Court of Korea has already ruled against the system because it violates freedom of expression, has little effect in improving the malicious comment situation, and constricts the public sphere.

Pointing out that “even when the vision of a business is to prevent distortions in the public sphere, it is difficult to design a perfect system that presupposes deceptive activities that might occur there,“Professor Hwang explained. “We need to stop looking at online opinion systems as a tool. We also need to find the people who distort public opinion and implement strict legal measures to prevent recurrences.”

Apart from this macro scandal, the controversy over online comment rigging is neither new nor limited to the liberals or conservatives. Suspicions of a rigging scandal at the level of national agencies and election camps arose during the Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations. This scandal involved the National Intelligence Service, ROK Cyber Command, Defense Security Command, Sibaldan[3], and others.

The fundamental problem lies in the endless desire to distort and manipulate public opinion, and the current comment system in web portals—which arrange comments based on the number of “agrees” they receive—faithfully reflects this desire. Therefore it is important to expand our discourse beyond “technical response” or “introduction of an internet real name verification system” and focus on improving the direction of web portal policies.

Lee Sungkyu, Media Tech Lab Director at Mediati opined that “comments should also be considered as journalism and that portals should change their philosophy and stop looking at comments and articles as separate.” He emphasized, “We need to consider people who post comments as citizen journalists and require them to abide by journalism ethics.”

He also advised, “Right now, portals only show the IP addresses when people post comments, but we can reveal the location, age, and comment history of the people posting comments and review ways to improve the system so that comments can appear more in searches, like in the New York Times.” The New York Times does not use a real name verification system but requires people to input their name and location to assign at least some responsibility to their comments. The Times also ranks the level of commenters. Since the users are verified, once comments are published, they can be found in search results. In addition, the Times highlights good comments, thereby improving the responsibility and reliability of commenters.

Keum Jun-kyeong writes for Media Today.

Haena Stella KIM is a literature translator. She’s also translation editor for The Dissolve. Reach her at haena@thedissolve.kr.
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Korean-internet  Korean-media  Korean-netizens  Naver 
may 2018 by thegrandnarrative
South Korea's Trolling Game | KOREA EXPOSÉ
Prologue

I’m glad that a**hole died.

I heard that actress b**** is sleeping with that CEO.

You’re a fake, and everyone sees through you.

Imagine watching a trolling competition on television. The players are professors, teenagers, unemployed trolls, your regular Joe in the office trolls — remaining faceless, hidden inside their game rooms, protected from physical interaction with the targets they attack. Viewers rate the players, who gather points to make it to the next round. Throughout the course of the tournament, they attack a frightened child actor, a dead celebrity, and eventually, each other. One competitor commits suicide.

Welcome to the Akpeul Game, or The Battle of Malicious Comments, a 2013 online comic by Hong Seung-pyo, whose penname is Miti. The webtoon is a searing critique of South Korea’s pervasive culture of akpeul, literally “malicious comments.”

21st-century South Korea is one of the best-connected societies in the world. As of 2016, online penetration was over 90 percent. There were about 45 million internet users in South Korea, out of a total population of 51 million. The South Korean web has a colorful ecosystem of trolls, abounding in anonymous communities like Ilbe, Today’s Humor, DC Inside. Even Naver offers the cloak of anonymity to the millions of commenters on its blogs, forums and news articles. There are plenty of places for the trolling game to thrive.

“Remember, akpeul is a cancer cell,” a player says in the webtoon. “If possible, create a frame of discussion that a majority would either oppose or support, a frame that would enrage and excite people. The world will always opt for the louder, the more interesting.”

The story is fictional, but realistic. Remember Choi Jin-sil, one of the most nationally famous victims of online trolling. Choi was the actress of the 1990s in South Korea; she committed suicide in 2008 after vicious rumors spread about her family, friends and finances. And many others suffered, only they weren’t famous enough to make headlines.

But it’s not just about the individual tragedies. Trolling can be committed by much more powerful actors, like the invisible, shadowy creator of in Akpeul Game that’s manipulating individual trolls and public opinion for his personal gain. This portrayal of a larger, more systematic trolling is especially relevant in South Korea today, where the country’s former president Lee Myung-bak is currently embroiled in a scandal involving what is arguably South Korea’s most prominent case of institutional trolling.

Part I: Choi Jin-sil

In the webtoon, there’s no clear distinction between the victims and the perpetrators. Anyone who uses the internet — sharing unverified articles, clicking on clickbait posts — we’re all part of the game, all potential enablers.

Choi Jin-sil’s is one of the most shocking, in part because the repercussions of the trolling didn’t end with her suicide.

Choi was plagued by trolls throughout her career. In 2000, with the rise of the internet and at the height of her fame, Choi married one of South Korea’s hottest young baseball players. Their marriage ended disastrously less than four years later, when the husband’s infidelities and physical abuse of Choi became widely consumed tabloid fodder.

In 2008, she hanged herself after another round of vicious rumors circulated online about her being a loan shark to one of her friend’s husbands, who had also killed himself just a few months earlier, a rumor Choi denied. A few years later, her ex-husband and her younger brother, also a celebrity, also killed themselves. Choi’s two children were left in the care of Choi’s mother.

Choi Jin-sil’s death wasn’t just the responsibility of the few that started the rumors. The trolling machine includes everybody: Our collective susceptibility to believing, spreading, or even simply clicking on the rumors fed the malicious comments and gave power to the baseless allegations.

“Would people believe me if I died?” Choi Jin-sil told reporter Kim Jae-woo over the telephone, not long before her death. “My name is Choi jinsil [truth], but people are calling me Choi gasik [phony]. Isn’t this so sad?”

The webtoon Akpeul Game presents trolling as an amusing sport. Players team up, progress through quarterfinals and semifinals, and the final winner goes home with one billion won (more than $900,000). Outside the official competition, there’s often no real motive behind the sport: People just get a kick out of making digs at each other — like Gam Jeong-moo, a competitor who enjoy watching others get upset (his name literally means ‘no emotions’ in Korean).

This apparent lack of a motive from individual trolls — as well as the amusement factor — baffles the protagonist of the comic, a soft-hearted employee at a PC room, who throughout the game questions if human beings are inherently good and eventually comes to accept the banality of evil. For him, it’s easier to grasp the motive of the larger, more influential player — the institutional troll.

Part II: The Invisible Hand

In 2008, actress Kim Gyu-ri, like many others at the time, publicly criticized then-president Lee’s decision to import beef from the U.S. as a part of the KORUS free trade agreement. At the time, the FTA had sparked massive nationwide protests against the conservative administration, due to claims that U.S. beef could cause mad cow disease. Kim took to social media to address the planned imports, writing, “It’d be better to fill our mouths with cyanide.”

For the next ten years, Kim claimed in a recent televised interview with SBS, she was the victim of incessant cyberbullying. ‘Cyanide’ was a keyword that followed her around in cyberspace, even in irrelevant contexts. Anonymous commenters told her to drink the cyanide herself. “You aren’t dead yet? Die, die, die,” Kim recollected some of the comments. “I tried to.”

It turns out that Kim was one of the 82 artists blacklisted by the National Intelligence Service during Lee Myung-bak’s presidency, according to documents released in September by a government committee investigating the NIS. (This arts and culture blacklist, however, is nowhere as long as the one under the succeeding Park Geun-hye administration, thought to include over a thousand figures.)

The NIS, the country’s main spy agency, is responsible for managing national security and collecting intelligence about North Korea. The agency is currently accused of systematically organizing online trolling against anyone the Lee administration perceived as threatening.

This includes actors like Kim Gyu-ri, journalists, Park Won-soon (Seoul’s left-leaning mayor), and even current president Moon Jae-in, who lost his 2012 bid for the presidency against conservative Park Geun-hye, in a race that has subsequently been tainted by the fact that the NIS directed government employees to troll against Moon.

The accusations against the NIS — and former president Lee — first began in 2012, right before the presidential election, when the Democratic Party, the main opposition, was tipped off that the spy agency was illegally intervening in the election by posting online comments in favor of Park and accusing Moon of being a pro-North Korea stooge.

It’s a scene that has now become infamous: liberal lawmakers and hordes of journalists camping out for over 30 hours in front of the apartment door of Kim Ha-young, an NIS agent, who was eventually arrested and investigated.

Throughout the conservative Park Geun-hye administration, accusations surfaced that her election was illegitimate; but investigation of the NIS was criticized of being insufficient. In June, almost as soon as Moon Jae-in became president, the NIS Reform and Progress Committee was launched and began investigating issues related to the NIS’s online trolling and more.

Hence the flurried concentration of NIS-related headlines in recent months. The committee has found that over 3,500 civilians were hired by the NIS in 2012 to manipulate public opinion during the presidential race. Top officials who worked for or were related to the NIS during Lee Myung-bak’s presidency have been arrested, although Lee himself is in the clear for now (unless you count the around 30 artists and culture-related figures who sued him for indemnities in November.)

It’s not yet clear how deeply the NIS was involved in Kim’s cyberbullying. The agency declined to comment on the story.

Ironically, around the same time the NIS reform committee released the artist blacklist in September, the Liberty Korea Party, the rebranded conservative party, launched the Digital Political Party Committee to address the problem that Lee is accused of perpetuating: institutional, politically manipulative online trolling.

“The left has been using abnormal methods, like mobilizing online armies of commenters to manipulate public opinion,” Lee Suk-woo, the director of the committee, argued. “We’re trying to set those problems right.”

“It’s true that the NIS used online commenters, to an extent, during the Lee administration. That should be resolved. But how about the public manipulation by the liberal, leftist forces?”

Lee claims, like many others in Liberty Korea, that some of president Moon Jae-in’s supporters have pro-North Korea tendencies. He pointed to the ‘Moonlight Riders,’ a term conservative politicians use to label Moon supporters that they accuse of systematic trolling. So far, no government entity has been directly linked to them, and the allegations have not caught on beyond the party and right-wing media.

Part III: The Game Goes On

For as long as the internet has been around, South Koreans have debated the Babellic nature of free speech that online trolling seems to unleash.

Trolling is not a problem that’s unique to South Korea. Anywhere there’s internet (i.e. pretty much everywhere human beings live), there’s some sort of abuse happening. An early tragedy … [more]
Korean-trolls  Ilbe  Korean-alt-right  Korean-netizens  akpeul  Korean-internet  Korean-media 
december 2017 by thegrandnarrative

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