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Video of murder spreads on Web

June 24,2004
As feared by the government, several Web sites have posted video files of the murder of Kim Sun-il in Iraq for download. The government has blocked a U.S. site carrying the video, but was too late to prevent downloaded copies from beginning to circulate here over file-sharing networks and by person-to-person exchanges.
The U.S. site posted the video yesterday morning, Korean time; the site had earlier posted an advertisement on its site seeking the footage of the execution. Korean Internet users quickly began to flock to the site to protest and attempt to crash it by overloading it with incoming traffic.
There were two video clips on the site, which reportedly came from an radical Islamist site. One of the clips, four minutes long, showed just the execution; a masked armed man read a statement and then another man pushed Mr. Kim to the floor before murdering him. The final scene showed Mr. Kim’s severed head.
The Ministry of Information and Communication, which had launched a 24-hour emergency monitoring system to block the spread of online video for fear of inflaming public opinion here, ordered domestic Internet service providers to cooperate in blocking the site. Portal sites were asked to disable access to sites found to have the video or links to them. Naver and Yahoo Korea blocked any response in their search engines to the word “beheading.”
But Internet service providers admitted that there was no way to block the spread of the downloaded video files by other means. Many programs, such as the “peer-to-peer” services used commonly to transfer music files, and instant messenger programs, allow users to transfer files to others.
The U.S. site said it was showing the brutal reality of violence in the world. It also posted files showing the beheadings of two Americans, Nick Berg and Paul Johnson.
On May 13, the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, a Korean television network, drew protests for showing the video of Mr. Berg’s murder. Its only concession was to blur out the victim’s severed head.
The Arab TV station Al Jazeera, which had aired some video of Mr. Kim in captivity, said it had decided not to broadcast video of the murder.
The Ministry of Information and Communication said additional Web sites had begun posting video clips, and was continuing to ask Internet companies here to block access to the sites.


by Ahn Jun-yong, Wohn Dong-hee


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