The suicide of Korean stars.
Korean stars have a strange habit: they commit suicide with appalling regularity. Yet, their suicides - and there have been many - are not without cause.
Choi Jin Sil, a celebrated Korean actress, committed suicide on October 2nd 2008. Jang Chae Won, a transgender entertainer, committed suicide on October 3rd 2008. The previous month, actor Ahn Jae Hwan gassed himself in his car. Woo Seung-yeon a 24 year old rookie actress hanged herself on April 27th 2009. Jeong Da-bin, a South Korean actress also hanged herself - in February 2007. Female singer, Yuni, killed herself on January 21st 2007. Movie actress Lee Eun-joo killed herself in February 2005.
I could go on listing self-inflicted Korean deaths, but I won't. I think I have listed enough to make the point: Korean stars have a seriously bad habit of killing themselves. Now, the question is why? What do all these cases - or almost all these cases - have in common?
The fans. Or shall we call them "anti-fans"? The common factor linking these deaths is the brutal, even evil, concerted comments by "anti-fans" on the stars' websites and any and all news stories relating to them. It is common in South Korea for netizens to gang up on stars and assault them with thousands and thousands of hugely unpleasant, slanderous, vile, brutal comments that attack every aspect of their lives, appearances, relationships and decisions. Few stars are prepared for this kind of ill-treatment, when they first become famous - which is why, perhaps, so many of the Korean star suicides are very young. They finally succeed at what they have aimed to do with their lives and, instead of finding joy in their success, they find themselves hounded by the most evil people imaginable. They come under constant online attack from their always anonymous detractors and attackers.
Artists, of all kinds, are usually more sensitive than the average person - that is what, after all, makes them artists. This means that these stars are vulnerable to these attacks. They find themselves not loved for their gifts, as they might have expected, but besieged by hate - and, for so many of them, the only way out appears to be at the end of a rope.
There is another consequence of this suicide of stars. Stars have followers and with each death of a star, there tends to be a rash of copycats. Thus it is no surprise that South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the developed world at 26.1 per 100,000, per year, in 2005. Indeed, among men in their twenties, it is the major cause of death.
Thus, it could be said that Korean netizens, through writing their constant barrages of hate, are killing thousands of their fellow citizens: they are, in fact, internet mass murderers.
Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, the Korean government has responded by setting up a Cyber Terror Response Centre with, an enormous 900 employees whose job is to scour the net, its messageboards and web sites, to identify posters who habitually post slanders and instigate cyber bullying. It amazes me just how big the problem must be, if it requires 900 full-time employees to begin to address it.
The Korean situation provides a strong argument against permitting the continuation of internet anonymity. Many an evil person hides behind anonymity on the internet to post vile material. Such postings are not without consequence and do, in fact, destroy lives and even kill people. It has to stop.
Korea is not alone in having this problem, though it is particularly acute there. It is a global problem, to varying degrees - and it all stems from the fact that internet hate posters can hide behind anonymity. This brings out the worst in the worst people.
It seems to me that there should always be a way to identify internet hate posters - and that they should be charged with a crime, each and every time they post internet hate. Unless the world takes a stand against such behaviour, we can expect other cultures to eventually go the way of the Korean one - in which people in the public eye are deluged with so much hate, that they would rather be dead, than continue to live and suffer it.
Let us learn from the Korean example and ensure that all hate posters, everywhere can be brought to justice.