Dead man walking II: cyber-terrorism

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Dead man walking II: cyber-terrorism

You have a short fuse. Your testosterone level is higher than Mike Tyson’s. You happen to like Apolo Anton Ohno. Let me give you a hand and make your day.
Okay, more than two weeks ago ― Nov. 5 to be exact ― I wrote that the U.S. speed skater was... a dead man walking. There. I did it! Yep, you heard me! I wrote that those three words, Apolo Anton Ohno, stood for “dead man walking.” Stop right there and cyber-terrorize me!
Actually, I prefer that you continue. Those who read that entire column may recall that I wrote how unhealthy the blind affection many Korean sports fans display is. That was the point of the column.
Now, those who didn’t finish reading and instead fired off an e-mail bashing Korean journalism, take heart. I understand; you’re angry. You missed your Zen session. Stuff happens. I can live with that.
But when professional news agencies write articles quoting other articles, and tailor them to fit their editorial slant, I do have a problem.
One foreign news agency that wrote a story about the recent developments regarding Ohno wrote, “One major South Korean newspaper said Ohno would be a ‘dead man walking’ if he showed up in Jeonju City for the three-day World Cup event.”
I hope they’re not talking about me, because if so, it means one of two things: Whoever wrote that article didn’t finish my column, or he used that phrase knowing that what he was doing was dead-on wrong.
Haven’t I already said that if we don’t stop this war of words, things will go bonkers? Kimchi won’t only be known for its pungent smell; next thing you know, it will be blamed for spreading SARS.
Well, with Ohno ― who won a hotly disputed Olympic gold medal in 2002 over a Korean competitor ― and his American chums deciding not to attend the Jeonju World Cup, at least the curtain’s down on the first act.
Are we in for more? Perhaps. If people (and I’m not sure they deserve to be called fans) don’t end this stupidity, we’ll see more embarrassing fiascos like this, in which an athlete gets an avalanche of e-mailed death threats. Even without an official invitation, the Korean police should track down those letter writers, then let the justice system mete out the appropriate punishment. It’s like any cyber crime; the only difference is, there’s more at stake.
In sports, the rules of engagement say you can boo and hiss all day long at 125 decibels, but saying “I’ll kill you” is out of bounds ― although I must say that a Korean expression with a similar meaning, jukeullae, gets used frequently, but in a lighthearted way. I don’t think most of the anti-Ohno e-mailers really understood the effect of their words. Sure, they wanted to express their disgust with Ohno. But hurt him?
I can’t prove this, but as a Korean familiar with how we use language when we are upset, I’m willing to bet the farm that they didn’t plan to so much as touch his whiskers.
Ohno doesn’t deserve to be treated like this. He already knows that every time he steps on the ice, there will be people praying that his legs turn to Jell-O. Nor does Korea need the attention attracted by a few punks who have nothing better to do than sit at a computer and feel empowered by firing off nasty missives. It’s dead wrong. The only way to get even in sports is through fair competition on the field.

by Brian Lee
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