Hardly democraticThe owner of a small café in Gwangju suffered “telephone terrorism” by radical supporters of President Moon Jae-in. In an open debate in the city last weekend, Bae Hoon-cheon, the cafe owner, criticized the Moon administration’s economic policy. On Facebook, he claimed that he was attacked by a group of Moon’s loyalists for his remarks in the debate. What did he say that was so outrageous? “After the government pressed ahead with the 52-hour workweek, our sales decreased and vitality vanished in the market,” he said in the debate.
On a radio program Tuesday, a guest raised the suspicion that Bae had been working for an organization closely connected to the conservative opposition People Power Party (PPP). The guest attacked Bae’s political background without even mentioning what he said in the debate. After former Justice Minister Cho Kuk posted an article about the radio show on Twitter, ardent supporters of Moon launched massive assaults on the café owner. Some of the supporters repeatedly made phone calls to his café to denounce him with unprintable insults. On Facebook, the café owner confessed that he had to use an automatic reply system for the business phone in the café due to Cho’s misleading tweet.
Such outrageous attacks on a private citizen constitute a serious violation of his freedom of speech. We are shocked that such shameful acts were committed by followers of political forces who pride themselves on having fought for democracy. More astounding is the former justice minister tweeting messages against Bae like the kingpin of an organized crime group delivered instructions to henchmen. A Korea University professor lamented, “What difference is there between Cho and the leader of a shadowy terrorist group?”
Moon followers have engaged in countless numbers of cyberattacks on opponents just because they have different views. Reacting to a speech delivered by ruling Democratic Party (DP) leader Song Young-gil in the National Assembly on Wednesday, pro-Moon groups lashed out at the new party leader on the internet after he urged the DP to keep a distance from those hard-core groups. That’s not all. Five first-term DP lawmakers who called for self-reflection from the party after its crushing defeats in the April 7 by-elections had to endure thousands of antagonistic text messages from Moon enthusiasts.
We had political thugs in the past. They used violence to oppress opponents in broad daylight. Flagging a target for political attacks on social media and the subsequent indiscriminate onslaught is nothing but digital violence. If bigwigs in the pro-Moon camp choose to ignore this kind of savagery, they are colluding with the deniers of democracy.