Arrest out for U.S. Tablo tormentor

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Arrest out for U.S. Tablo tormentor

It’s a maxim of our time that anything you post online can come back to haunt you, as a netizen who calls himself “whatbecomes” is finding out.

Whatbecomes is the nom-de-Net of Kim Eung-seok, a 57-year-old ethnic Korean currently living in Chicago and holding U.S. citizenship, who has stoked a cyber-calumny campaign against hip-hop singer Tablo, according to Seoul police, saying the U.S.- educated singer faked his university credentials. Seoul police have issued an arrest warrant for Kim.

Kim is the manager of the discussion group “We Request the Truth from Tablo,” also know by the Korean acronym TaJinYo, which has more than 190,000 registered members. The group was formed in May, several months after initial questions were raised about Tablo’s graduation from Stanford University in California.

The JoongAng Daily published Tablo’s transcript from Stanford in June, but Netizens refused to accept the proof.

The Seoul Police announced last week that the singer had indeed graduated from Stanford, and called in for questioning 22 Internet users being sued by Tablo for defamation, including Kim, who has refused the invitation. According to police, Kim responded, “I posted in a fair manner. So I will not answer the summons.”

Police then issued an arrest warrant with the help of Interpol.

“If even one of our club members is hurt by this, I will go to Korea myself and do something about Tablo and his lawyer,” Kim ranted on the club’s discussion board in August, before the police was investigating the case. Kim also promised to Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation staff that month, “If Tablo’s academic credentials are found to be true, I will take all responsibility and even go to prison in Korea.”

MBC aired two documentaries on Tablo’s Internet ordeal at the beginning of October, with descriptions of the activities of TaJinYo.

After Seoul police announced their findings last week, Kim posted on Saturday, “I am a Korean with a U.S. citizenship and not a criminal. This is not an issue to arrest me over with the help of Interpol. Is defamation an international crime? I am so angry they are treating me like a suspect when they have not confirmed I am a criminal.”

The Saturday post was deleted after receiving a lot of attention. Kim announced to club members last week he was temporarily “quitting, due to difficulties from the police investigation.”


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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