Tablo faces Internet defamers

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Tablo faces Internet defamers

Korean Internet users refuse to let go of their doubts about Korean hip-hop singer Tablo’s academic degrees, even after over half a year has passed since questions were raised and the singer has produced proof of his achievements and his former classmates rallied around him.

The situation has only gotten worse after Tablo and netizens have recently opted to take legal action; Tablo filed a lawsuit in mid-August against 22 netizens for defamation while members of two Internet clubs filed charges against the singer, of which one was made yesterday, for illegal fabrication of certifications.

Both cases are under the jurisdiction of the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office, but both are progressing slowly and prosecutor and police sources are complaining that the cases are like “bombshells that won’t produce results but will be criticized.’”

The netizens have demanded prosecutors look into whether Tablo graduated from Stanford University in the United States, but prosecutors say it will be hard to prove illegality, and it will be difficult to prove that Tablo was employed through false degrees.

Also, the 22 netizens that have been sued by the singer were found to have been using foreign IP addresses or false identifications, which will put prosecutors through another ordeal confirming their identities.

There are about 140,000 members of Internet clubs dedicated to finding the truth about Tablo’s academic degrees and suspicions about the singer range from plagiarism, dual nationality and even an accusation that Tablo had applied for an internship with the CIA.

“Tablo attracted the mass public’s attention that he had received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Stanford because this is a society that favors ‘good universities.’ This is the reason why everyone is so curious,” said a staff member of online cafe Tajinyo (We Request the Truth from Tablo), which has nearly 130,000 members.

“This happening can be explained as the combination of the animosity that people have against society that favors people mostly based on their academic achievements compared to other accomplishments and Tablo’s celebrity status,” said Chey Jeanyoung, psychology professor at Seoul National University.

“The doubt about Tablo’s degree is just something that is floating on the surface. Beneath, it’s all about what people want to believe and not seeing what the truth is,” said Whang Sang-min of Yonsei University. “There are people who cannot accept the fact from their personal standards that this popular artist, whose parents are affluent enough to live in Tower Palace, is married to a pretty movie star, and on top of that, received his bachelor’s and master’s at Stanford within three and a half years when so many people struggle to even get accepted to that school,” said Whang.

Whang also said that netizens are justifying their anger against the artist because they believe that “there definitely must be something wrong with him.”

Other analysts believe that the Internet, which enables easy formation of mass groups, lent power to those who say they are against Tablo.

“You can’t be sure who will stand with you when you confront someone on a one-on-one basis in public, but in Internet cafes, you think your actions will definitely be backed because you believe you have 120,000 people behind you,” said Kim Bong-sop at the National Information Society Agency.


By Christine Kim, Song Ji-hye [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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