Twitter brightens Koreans’ world

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Twitter brightens Koreans’ world

When Typhoon Kompasu hit central Seoul in September and when a massive fire broke out at an apartment complex in Busan in October, people used social media to report on the events, and in most cases they were as fast as professional news outlets in delivering information.

Twitter was awarded a prize for being one of “38 things that brightened the world in 2010” by the Korea Green Foundation in a ceremony at the Korea Press Center yesterday in central Seoul.

Most of the award recipients are people, but some companies are included on the list.

“These days, news outlets have a hard time matching the speed of [reports posted by the general public on] Twitter,” Choi Yul, the foundation’s president, said. “It also deserves recognition because it has demolished the monopoly on information [held by news outlets].”

Internet users nominated about 300 individuals and companies for the awards in November and the winners were selected by a 13-judge panel.

The list of nominees includes figures in broadcasting, sports, civic groups, the arts, culture, civil service, journalism and academia.

Judges said Twitter is more than just a chat service, but has given people a new way to discuss the issues.

People used the service to debate controversial events - such as when a 46-year-old man groped a sleeping 26-year-old woman on the subway or when Lotte Mart incited a chicken war of sorts after it reneged on its promise to provide cheap chicken for a year.

“This year, Twitter spread news about social issues and helped change people’s actions,” said Kim Yeong-geol, one of the judges.

Other award recipients include Jeong Da-rae, gold medalist in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke at the Asian Games; Ji So-yun, a footall player on the U-20 women’s national team; her coach Choe In-cheol; Song Hae, the MC of a national singing contest; both the wife and daughter of Han Jun-wui, a warrant official who jumped into the sea to search for missing soldiers after the sinking of the naval ship Cheonan; Chang Ha-Joon, economics professor at Cambridge University; and novelist Lee Oi-soo.

Last year, the traditional Korean rice wine makgeolli won a prize at the event.

The number of South Korean users on Twitter has surpassed 2 million, according to Korean research company Oiko Laboratory.

By Kim Hee-jin []
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