Cyber bullying, star suicides: The dark side of South Korea's K-pop world - GulfToday

Cyber bullying, star suicides: The dark side of South Korea's K-pop world

Better strategy needed to curb suicides

Picture used for illustration.

The suicide of a second K-pop artist in a month has cast focus in South Korea on cyber bullying of young stars, and how it mostly goes unpunished.

The police consider cyber violence a serious crime and have an active programme educating the public how not to fall prey to online attacks, or to become the perpetrator.

"It's rather simple with physical violence, as the victim can go see a doctor, but with cyber violence, there is no cure," says Jeon Min-su, a cyber crime investigator with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

K-pop singer Koo Hara was found dead in her home on Sunday and the police found a handwritten note despairing about her life. She had been subjected to vicious attacks online about her relationships with men, local media said.

Koo had spoken out against cyber bullying. She was found unconscious at her home in May and hospitalised, and a month after the incident she said she was suffering from depression and vowed to fight malicious online comment. She was friends with the K-pop Star Sulli, who was found dead in October.

Kwon Young-chan, comedian-turned-counsellor who has himself been a victim of online violence, said stars have little recourse when they come under attack and it is almost impossible to avoid rumours and personal attacks.

"When the perpetrators write vicious comments, they first begin with a 'light tap' and the scale of cyber bullying then intensifies to a 'punch'", he said in an interview.

The rumours and personal attacks online make their way into the stars' personal lives, Kwon said.
Both Sulli and Koo had been with girl bands and later broke out on their own, which made them more vulnerable, Kwon said.

Member of parliament Park Sun-sook, a former presidential spokeswoman who first addressed the issue of online attacks in 1998, wants to make it possible for anyone to ask web portals to take down malicious or blatantly false comments.

"Young stars are exposed with no defence to cyber violence. It's time for the law and the society to protect them," she told Reuters


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