[Viewpoint] Wasting resources on Tablo affair
Tablo, the lead singer of the hip- hop group, Epik High, is at the center of a controversial scandal that erupted in cyberspace. He has certainly made an unfavorable impression in Korea with his arrogant behavior.
He is to blame for the initial spark of controversy. News that he was exempted from military service and has Canadian citizenship are a few of the reasons for this scandal. In addition, bragging on Korean TV about receiving admission to both Stanford University and Harvard University with his poetry and essay writings upset Korean citizens. By making this comment, he essentially struck a match while surrounded by explosives.
However, the bigger problem is the excessive attacks from some aggressive Internet users. They inspected every facet of his family and completely ruined their private lives. Those skeptical of Tablo’s educational background pushed the singer to provide his transcript and immigration travel records to the United States.
When Tablo released documents to verify his story, they closely scrutinized them and found yet another flaw. It is not that they do not believe Tablo’s explanation but rather, they do not want to believe that Tablo actually went to Stanford University.
The angry Koreans completely invaded one man’s privacy and demanded proof, but upon the release of his personal information, individuals responded furiously. They claimed that releasing the information was an invasion of privacy. They showed little sense of balanced judgment.
The answer to the controversy of whether Tablo graduated from Stanford, has already been verified. The Stanford Korean Alumni Association’s president Jeong Jun and secretary, Wu Chang-pyo, circulated emails certifying that Tablo was indeed, a graduate of Stanford. They requested that the excessive attacks against him should cease. The alumni association contacted those who had been close to Tablo and released three photographs from his college years. By reading a column by Lim Jeong-hee, titled “The Lessons from the Tablo Scandal”, those attacking Tablo would have been able to find the truth. Ms. Lim herself is a Stanford graduate.
The online campaign is truly frightening. Even the television networks are reluctant to address cyber problems. The news department of MBC had completed a report on Tablo by interviewing a Stanford dean.
However, the report was not aired because of internal opposition. The managers said airing the report could lead to attacks by netizens. A high executive of MBC said that the broadcaster was more concerned about netizens’ attacks rather than the facts.
The network only aired a special program after Tablo and a producer’s visit to Stanford in person. However, some came up with a conspiracy theory that Tablo had bought off MBC.
Who is the winner of the Tablo scandal? Neither the netizens nor the rapper is the winner of this controversy.
Much like when fear of the mad cow disease and the tragedy of the Cheonan swept the country, the Internet portal sites enjoyed a boom during this controversy. As Internet users frequented the Web sites to argue with one another, advertisements increased and stock prices skyrocketed.
The portal sites provided a stage for fights and pocketed the windfall. They remind me of arms dealers, counting profits from devastating wars.
The biggest victim of this controversy, without a doubt, is Tablo. His tears of frustration and hurt were broadcast on television.
Bae Seong-beom, the director of investigation at the Central Prosecutors Office in Seoul, says the department is busy with Internet-related lawsuits. An investigation into the Tablo case was inevitable as both sides filed lawsuits against each other. However, Mr. Bae finds little significance in this controversy. “The investigations are conducted with taxpayers’ money. Why should investigators fly to the United States and get a copy of an university diploma for some singer when investigative authorities should be searching for burglars and murderers?”
The investigation results of the Tablo case are soon to be released. The investigative authorities are said to have confirmed that the administrator of the anti-Tablo cafe is a man in his 50s residing in the United States. No matter how thoroughly they probe the case, punishment is virtually impossible. Society has been fooled by someone out of Korea’s jurisdiction. According to the National Assembly’s audit inspection, online defamation cases have increased by 50 percent in the last two years. Meanwhile, 5690 cases of felonies are left unsolved as of the end of May.
Korean society must rethink its priorities. Authorities were pushed to verify a university diploma rather than attending to the more significant cases that are needed to be solved. We should all work together to keep the Internet space free of malicious defamation.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Lee Chul-ho