SEOUL, Nov. 28 (Korea Bizwire) – A man in his early 50s was arrested for spreading unfounded rumors about the Sewol ferry sinking tragedy online. He posted more than 600 messages including a writing claiming that the drowning of 300 passengers was part of a conspiracy by the Park government. Some of his postings attracted more than 2 million viewers.
Investigators of the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office charged the perpetrator whose last name was known as Woo on November 27 for defaming the Coast Guard and other rescue operators by posting false rumors on Daum’s Agora bulletin board.
Since August this year, Woo has posted a total of 607 writings including, “The naval submarine caused sinking of the ferry by hitting it from the bottom” and “The Coast Guard boat dragged the ferry with a rope to a deep waterway and drowned the passengers.” Some of the postings were copies of other Internet users. He also claimed that it was Korean Coast Guard Commissioner General Kim Suk-Kyoon who led the whole operation and directly reported to the President and that the first-class seamen on the ferry were actually sent from the National Intelligence Service.
An official with the prosecutors’ office said, “We decided to arrest him as the case was serious including his online activity lasted for more than three months with viewer numbers surpassing 2 million. If we find any other cases in which malignant rumors are spread and there are victims whose reputation is irretrievably damaged by the rumors, we will make sure to pursue criminal charges.”
The prosecutors’ office had set out the investigations based on a complaint by the Navy at the end of October. As a state institution was not eligible to become a victim to a libel case, the prosecutors looked for individuals who were affected by the slander, including the coast guard commissioner, the sailors on board the coast guard boat, and the seamen on the Sewol ferry boat.
Since September this year when a meeting to strengthen punishment for online libel cases was held, the prosecutors’ office has aggressively charged perpetrators who posted malicious messages on Internet forums and discussion boards. The prosecutors on November 17 arrested a man whose last name was known as Shin for defaming Lee Jae-hyun, CJ Group chairman currently under court proceeding for embezzlement. About the same time, the prosecutors also prosecuted a woman without detention for posting a message on Daum’s Agora claiming that it was the Coast Guard who told the high school students in the sinking boat to stay put.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)