[Letter] Lewd adverts on news Web sites must disappear

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[Letter] Lewd adverts on news Web sites must disappear

Last December, the Korea Internet Newspaper Association (Kina) announced the “Internet Newspaper Advertisement Voluntary Restraint Guideline” which showcased their efforts to self-regulate intrusive advertisements and to raise the organizations’ credibility and carry out their social responsibility. However, even after this announcement, the number of online newspapers which inserted intrusive ads has increased from 62 last year to 176 this year according to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (Mogef). Mogef monitored 3,216 news agencies’ Web sites in June. What Kina came up with as a self-regulatory act is little more than a guideline. This is why the Korean government should step up efforts to effectively prohibit intrusive advertisements on the Internet.

What about the lewd advertisements which raises our eyebrows? Sometimes it makes me wonder if I have clicked the Web site to read the news article or a page full of harmful advertisements. In what Mogef found in June, the ads which most frequently appeared were sexual ability-enhancing food, urology clinics, health foods and sex toys. They also contained phrases which intended to arouse sexual desires and the ads showed pictures of women’s body parts. Not only are these very offensive but they were accessible to everyone including minors. What is more, sexual assault cases are a sensitive issue these days, and pornography and other lewd videos are believed to have some great influence on the increase of these crimes.

The competition among more than 3,200 online news outlets cannot be easy and the profit from advertisement may be crucial. It may be unjust to infringe on the right to pursue their own good when the outlets are competing fairly in a capitalist market. However, the fact that the news agencies have to insert such distracting advertisements for revenue leaves room for questions. What about the rights of choice for the readers and underage students? They chose to read the article, not the unpleasant ads, and young students should be protected. How do you feel reading a painful story describing a sexual assault case and its victim when all these offending ads are plastered all over the page? I am not arguing for government regulation on Internet news advertisements as a whole. Voluntary efforts to regulate these types of ads is just too small. The government should be the one to stand in front to stop these advertisements and protect the news reader’s rights and the minors.

*Jo He-rim, Sophomore at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
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