The worst response is none at all

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The worst response is none at all

Comedian Park Hui-sun was hurt when he saw gossip on the Internet about his love life. It was a typical celebrity love scandal with juicy details of who-is-going-out-with-whom. But what upset him the most was the fact that no readers had responded anywhere on the site.
“It was my first love scandal since making a debut on television,” the comedian said while on the set of a cable television talk show. “I was shocked that nobody left a single reply to the article.”
“That meant nobody cared about me,” he said, fixing his black horn-rims in place. “Oh lordy, that really hurt.”
In a society where sarcastic smart-aleck responses from Internet-savvy youngsters overflow from the pull-down menus attached to every online article, no response is the only thing that raises celebrities’ eyebrows.
There is even Internet jargon to describe a pull-down menu empty of readers’ responses. “Mupeul,” literally meaning “No reply,” is the dreaded word, and it strikes fear in the hearts of celebrities.
Actress Ko Hyeon-jeong once joked nervously about her personal experience during a press conference. She said there were “hundreds of replies” from Internet users who read about her comeback in an online news article. Some included “akpeul” (jargon for malicious replies) attacking her with comments like, “No one wants to see you on television anymore.” She said she was hurt at the time, but now realized she had been better off receiving akpeul than nothing at all.
“But now there are only a few [responses to the article about me],” she said. “Does that mean I am no longer popular?”
It’s hard to say. But according to Korean Internet users, this is at least possible.
Freelance announcer Kang Soo-jung was thankful for even an akpeul about her decision to quit her job as a popular show host to become a freelancer. Many Internet users criticized her for abruptly leaving her former employer, KBS, just to make more money, but that just showed how interested people were in her.
“Akpeul is certainly better than mupeul,” she said in an interview.
Park Hyeong-bin, a new trot singer, said he believed “any reply” to articles about him on the Internet ends up being an effective form of promotion.
“Having no reply at all is much scarier that having some anonymous person criticizing you,” he said.
Mupeul must be hard to endure. Although it’s hard to know whether they are joking or not, a couple of comedians have appeared on programs claiming to have scribbled in replies to their own articles because they hate to see the response section empty.
Some fans have come up with a way to help celebrities having mupeul trouble, however.
It’s a cyber movement called the Mupeul Prevention Committee, where younger Internet users go browsing on the Internet. When they find an article about their favorite star and see that the reader’s response board is blank, they immediately leave a message as a means to encourage their stars.
Jung Min-jeong, a high school sophomore, is one of the active members of the online Mupeul Prevention Committee. She goes searching for any updated gossip about her favorite pop singers, including Tony Ahn and Bada.
To her disappointment, there were no reader responses following a recent news about their new album releases.
“So I left a note saying that I am really looking forward to it,” she said. “The secret is in the way you leave the note. They have to sound very natural, like they have not been forced.”


By Lee Min-a Staff Writer [mina@joongang.co.kr]
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