Arts & Entertainment

South Koreans demand end to cyberbullying after celebrity deaths

Seoul, Feb 9 (EFE).- More than 150,000 people have called for strict measures against cyberbullying in South Korea following the death of two young celebrities after being targeted with hate messages on social media for years.

A professional volleyball player, Kim In-hyeok, and a famous YouTuber, Cho Jang-mi, both 27 years old, died on Friday and Saturday respectively with everything indicating that they committed suicide after facing intense harassment on social media.

Kim had requested an end to the hateful and discriminatory messages that he continually received on online platforms.

He said that he felt very distressed by the attacks and rumors about his appearance or sexual identity.

“People who have no idea who I really am send countless direct messages and post spiteful comments whenever I play a game. It’s really hard to bear all that. Please stop,” the Daejeon Samsung Fire Bluefangs player wrote in an Instagram post in August last year, local news agency Yonhap reported.

A day after the athlete’s death, livestreamer Cho Jang-mi, known as Jammi on YouTube, also died after suffering from severe depression believed to be caused by the hateful comments and rumors circulated online.

Cho’s cyberbullying dated back to 2019 and although she stopped streaming for some time, the attacks continued.

The deaths of the two South Korean celebrities have led to a petition being posted on the official presidential website recently asking for tougher punishments against hate comments and rumors on online platforms.

Until Wednesday, the petition had received the support of more than 155,000 people demanding a solution to cyberbullying in South Korea, which has led to the death of other stars in recent years, including K-pop singers, Sulli and Goo Ha-ra in 2019.

Following these deaths, the country’s leading web portals, Naver and Daum, have shut down readers’ comments in sports and entertainment news stories as a preventive measure.

However, the majority of discriminatory and hate comments in South Korea are made on global platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which makes it more difficult for the authorities to investigate them, according to the experts.

Currently, South Korean law punishes cyberbullying crimes with a fine of approximately 30 million won ($25,090) or a maximum of three years in prison.

However, despite this, such crimes continue to increase, having reached 19,388 cases in 2020. EFE


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