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"Witch hunting" on the web. The latest Korean fad?

The most wired country in the world has always been on the forefront of internet trends. Now, they're on the cusp of cyber-violence.

A South Korean employee of an internet company, Ecoin Co, in Seoul, June 12, 2000. South Korea has always been at the cutting-edge of the internet, and, as a result, also among the first countries to experience internet-related problems, like internet addiction. Cyber-bullying is becoming an increasing problem in Korea. (Reuters)

SEOUL, South Korea — One day you wake up to find your personal life plastered all over the web — photographs of your school days, anonymous comments you made on websites and images of your Facebook page. What do you do?

Most South Koreans would advise you to “disappear” for a while. When a university student, who was recently attacked in such a way, responded by posting more things on the web, it only served to fuel the fire. 

The student, dubbed “loser girl” by the public, found herself in the web spotlight after appearing on a popular television show, saying: “I don’t want to go out with men under 180 centimeters … . Short guys are losers.” She tried to apologize, but her efforts led to further cyber-attacks.

South Korea, the most wired country in the world, has been at the forefront of many internet-related problems — such as internet addiction. Now that South Korea is experiencing an escalating number of these cyber-attacks, dubbed "witch-hunting" by the local media, it finds itself again on the cusp of a troubling trend. This, more violent, internet-related problem challenges law enforcement jurisdictions and demands fast answers.

Despite the flurry of comments — some, particularly ill-minded against the student, like, “I guess the next news we’ll be hearing is about the loser girl committing suicide” — the case ultimately fizzled, with the television program issuing an apology for not filtering their content before airing it.

The word “loser” soon became a buzzword, and many web users added humor to the case by circulating postings related to successful men who are under 180 centimeters. “Is it Tom Cruiser and Martine Loser King then?” read some of the postings playing on the Korean pronunciation of the word loser.

But the fiasco also made people question whether web sabotage should go unaddressed. Earlier this year a popular boy-band leader, who is Korean-American, was forced to leave his team after someone dug up a posting he had made on MySpace speaking in negative light about Koreans.