The ills of Internet ire

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The ills of Internet ire

A group of Korean Internet users used the momentum of the national holiday on Monday, commemorating a nationwide independence movement against Japanese colonial rule in 1919, to launch a full cyber attack against a nationalistic Japanese Web site, 2channel.

A concerted routing and hacking bombardment caused a bottleneck on most bulletin boards on the host site. Japanese Web users waged a counterattack, bombarding the home pages of VANK, a nongovernmental organization that stands at the forefront of online disputes with Japan over territorial and textbook issues, and the presidential office, hampering their site connections throughout the day.

Korea and Japan have often been embroiled in heated and vicious cyber wars whenever the two countries clash over Japan’s territorial claim on the Dokdo islets and textbook distortion. Popular Web sites of the two countries have been flooded with abusive and malicious postings by young hackers.

The exchange of verbal attacks that start from political and diplomatic affairs often turn personal and emotional, building up to all-out organized attack on popular sites or government home pages. Monday’s skirmish was set off by some Japanese comments ridiculing the gold medal win by Korea’s Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na and a murderous attack on a Korean student by a Russian mob.

Angry Korean netizens then publicly organized a determined strike on the Japanese Web site that carried the postings by opening a cafe on a portal site to discuss the time and method of the attack and mustering an avid troop of millions.

Some Web postings by Japanese youths can be extreme. But an organized cyber attack on a Web site to punish obnoxious postings by individuals cannot be justified by any account. Critics say their act is tantamount to a hacking crime. Some Korean netizens recently went as far as hunting down the referee that disqualified the Korean women’s short-track speed skating relay team in the recent Vancouver Olympic Games and released his personal details on the Internet.

Being outraged by the referee who allegedly made repeated unfair judgements against Korean skaters is one thing, but exposing information like his phone number and e-mail address is a serious infringement of privacy.

Young Korean athletes have been lauded by the world audience for their perseverance and passion during the Winter Olympic Games. Our young online population should also pass beyond the infantile fighting stage and instead set an example for a mature Internet society in the online community.
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