Stop the mobile phone pollutionThe Seoul Central District Court last month ordered an observer in the courtroom to serve a four-day detention for letting his cellphone ring during a trial. According to the law, a ringtone in court constitutes an act of court disturbance and is subject to such punishments as an order to leave the courtroom, fines or detention at the discretion of judges. In the Seoul district court case, the observer received detention because he twice refused to turn off his cellphone despite repeated warnings from the judge.
Even though such careless and imprudent behavior has occurred often in courtrooms, it shows no sign of stopping.
Now, the court is annoyed by an ingenious variation of the violation: taping the proceedings of court trials using smartphones. Current law stipulates that those who dare to record the sound and visual images of court proceedings can receive penalties ranging from a million won ($920) fine to a maximum of 20 days in detention.
However, a growing number of people still dismiss the penalty, with some even daring to pick a fight with the court guards who try to restrain them - without recognizing the fact that if their recordings leak to the outside after being tailored to their taste, it could immediately spark another disturbing litigation on charges of human rights infringement.
Cellphone pollution has long been a social nuisance as evidenced by ceaseless ringtones of smartphones at public places or conversations at any place at any time. Even in social meetings, some smartphone aficionados are busy talking or sending text messages to their friends, raising concerns over their astounding lack of etiquette. But the mobile “terror” - not only disturbing bell sounds, but the uncontrolled flash of cellphone cameras - continues, much to the disappointment of musical performers and sports stars.
The real problem, however, comes from the self-contradictory attitude of a number of cellphone users: They just turn a blind eye - and a deaf ear - to their excessive use of mobile phones while frowning at someone else’s substandard behavior. A critical lack of etiquette educators - as cellphones are used by both the young and old - also contributes to the perplexing dilemma.
Many citizens suffer from cellphone pollution. It is time to establish a standardized mobile phone etiquette manual and apply misdemeanor charges to those unfettered cellphone users.