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South Korean government bans Kim Sun-Il execution video.
June 25, 2004 1:39 AM   Subscribe

South Korean government bans Kim Sun-Il execution video. Activates government emergency internet monitoring system. Orders web sites and ISPs to comply. "Web sites that fail to follow through the instructions will be subject to shut-down or police investigation". Several South Korean web sites have already been shut down, while other sites, such as Yahoo! Korea, are assisting the government by blocking and censoring their user's email. Meanwhile, a general strike, massive antiwar protests, and a refusal by airline unions may prevent the deployment and supply of 3,000 South Korean soldiers to Iraq, as well as the rule of the current South Korean government. Numerous U.S. websites are being blocked, and one of the sites, Ogrish.com, is under attack from hackers for carrying the execution video. (warning: tragic and traumatic. Windows Media.)
posted by insomnia_lj (47 comments total)

 
Did you really need to link to the video to make your point?
posted by davehat at 1:45 AM on June 25, 2004


I don't believe in censorship, especially that done by a government to prop up support for a widely unpopular military deployment.

Some people will want to watch the video, and some won't, and that is their choice. If you don't want to watch it, don't click on it, but don't tell me that I'm wrong to make the option available to people.

This is a free speech issue that we should all support, unless you like having governments monitor your internet usage, block your email, and tell you what you can and cannot see.

Let the mirroring commence...
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:53 AM on June 25, 2004


Where were these "moral" hackers when the other videos were posted?

Oh right, more nationalistic blowhards hiding their anti-speech positions behind a .gif of a flag.
posted by skallas at 1:55 AM on June 25, 2004


Where were these "moral" hackers when the other videos were posted?

If you're not Korean, you don't matter as much. I don't mean that to be ironic or humorous: it is merely the way most folks think here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:41 AM on June 25, 2004


Don't the South Koreans have their own airforce? Anyway, I'm sure they can get a lift from us if they need one. Anyway

It's pretty insane that the government is going to such great lengths to hide this. I wonder why S.Korean politics have been so intense lately?
posted by delmoi at 2:43 AM on June 25, 2004


He's right. If he hadn't linked the video, the first comment (after a snark or two) would've been "So where's the video link?"
posted by graventy at 2:45 AM on June 25, 2004


Did you really need to link to the video to make your point?

Absolutely. The link is not just to make a point, but to allow the oppourtunity to view the evidence raw. It is definately vital to display the murder itself.

As far as hacking is concerned, may I elaborate that information dismissal has been a historical fact for... since the beginning of information as we know it. (Prove otherwise.)

My argument is that we must fight to keep this information in the minds of the intellects, as callous and painful as it may seem. This is my argument for all information. We must fight for the freedom of information; This alone will begin the social constructs of a truly utopian idealism.
posted by Keyser Soze at 3:38 AM on June 25, 2004


...which in time should dismantle the amazing actions of those who see no better. For example, the murderers of Kim Sun-Il.
posted by Keyser Soze at 3:40 AM on June 25, 2004


I don't believe in censorship, especially that done by a government to prop up support for a widely unpopular military deployment.

I don't believe in censorship either, however, I think there are two issues here. The South Korean Government clearly tried to cover up news that a national had been abducted. It seems likely that this was in order to avoid circumstances that might lead to public opinion turning radically against the dispatch of further troops to Iraq. The news did come out that he had been kidnapped. Public opinion does seem to have swung against the deployment to a such a degree that trade unions are doing what they can to try and stop it.

The second issue is that some websites seem to be distributing a video of the execution that has not been broadcast. Al Jazeera didn't show the beheading, deeming it too distressing. And yet, somehow it has appeared on a number of websites. A number of people and the South Korean government would prefer that this video of his head being cut off didn't spread too far.

I'd venture that the strength of feeling in South Korea against the deployment has little to do with them all viewing or not being allowed to view this version of the video. Moreover, I can see why people (Government and hackers, funny combination isn't it) would want to intervene. After all, if I meet a sticky end, I would not want it to be eternally available for other's morbid curiousity.

If the two issues, Government cover up of an abduction, Government and hackers trying to prevent an execution video's distribution, are linked, then we should be able to see evidence in the form of public opinion changes about the deployment. Did it change significantly once news of Kim Sun-Il's abduction became public, or after the extra video footage became available? I would be interested to hear how public opinion in South Korea has changed over the last few weeks.

but don't tell me that I'm wrong to make the option available to people.

Not to make too fine a point of it, but I didn't tell you anything. FWIW, I think your post is constructed well, as they usually are. The link to the video seemed superfluous, hence my comment.

He's right. If he hadn't linked the video, the first comment (after a snark or two) would've been "So where's the video link?"

Its clearly on ogrish. It says so in the post.
posted by davehat at 3:46 AM on June 25, 2004


I guess I'm completely jaded, but I look at that execution video, and with all the rapid camera movements, and blurriness, and my immediate reaction is that it's doctored. That the head they show at the end is that of a manniquin or something. Probably just the crappy wmv file. Or I'm in denial that I actually just watched a real execution.

And here I thought snuff films were an urban legend.
posted by crunchland at 3:55 AM on June 25, 2004


It is definately vital to display the murder itself.

Vital to whom?
posted by davehat at 3:58 AM on June 25, 2004


KCTU: "No more innocent lives should be sacrificed in the unjustifiable war in Iraq."

Lawyers' Group for a Democratic Society:"The Korean government must pay compensation to Kim's family for all the sorrow and grief. We will file a lawsuit on behalf of the family.'''

This probably should be left as a separate debate, but to blame Kim's death on anyone but the people that murdered him seems opportunistic to me. I hate to sound like a hawk, as I was and continue to be as against this war as anyone, but it's one thing to use friendly fire deaths, or other moral grounds as a rallying cause to leave the Coalition(tm), but this is something quite different.
posted by psmealey at 4:08 AM on June 25, 2004


I just got done watching this video. I watched the Paul Johnson video, which I also got form Ogrish, shortly after it was released. This is the amazing power of the Internet. No other media source that I have access to would have allowed me to view this information. I prefer to see and understand these things for myself. I'm tired of having events summarized and interpreted for me.

Honestly, these movies are far more scary if you haven't seen them. If you can't watch these movies there's no way you can both understand and support what our troops are doing in Iraq.
posted by betaray at 4:13 AM on June 25, 2004


If you can't watch these movies there's no way you can both understand and support what our troops are doing in Iraq.

I'm not sure I understand what your point. Is the point to understand what death looks like, even if its from the safety of one's own home or office? Being in the financial district on the morning of September 11, 2001, as well as volunteering for the Red Cross in the weeks following, I saw enough death and burned flesh first-hand to last me (hopefully) a lifetime. For reasons stemming from that experience, when videos like these are posted, I find no particular reason to view them, but I don't think that diminishes my understanding of what war looks like. Or did you mean something else?
posted by psmealey at 4:24 AM on June 25, 2004


That said, I guess I'm glad that the internet exists as a place to get uncensored news, as I do think people should have more of an idea of what a terrible, horrible thing war is before being all gung-ho to "kick ass"... but unfortunately, I do think that people are still, in this country at any rate, able to blissfully sail through life without giving any serious thought to it.
posted by psmealey at 4:28 AM on June 25, 2004


If you can't watch these movies there's no way you can both understand and support what our troops are doing in Iraq.

Am I supposed to follow that by watching this video people will suddenly understand and support the invasion of Iraq?
posted by davehat at 4:35 AM on June 25, 2004


I tried to watch the Johnson video. I couldn't.
I'm not going to watch this one.

Still, for the SK government to try to hide the truth in order to shape public opinion is wrong - it's but one small step away from lying to get what they want.
posted by spazzm at 4:39 AM on June 25, 2004


"To blame Kim's death on anyone but the people that murdered him seems opportunistic to me."

By that logic, it seems only fair to point out that the deaths of Iraqi civilians should fall squarely and entirely on those who pull the trigger, shoot the shell, or push the button.

Let's leave the respective side's leaders out of this... they obviously don't know what they're doing.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:54 AM on June 25, 2004


I wasn't implying anything different that what you just said, insomnia_lj.
posted by psmealey at 4:58 AM on June 25, 2004


I'm not the least bit squeamish. But I don't feel the need to watch these beheading videos. In fact, I really care very little about these beheadings. Each one is one person's death, sensationalized, and the publicity serves the purposes of the killers. Innocent people are murdered every day—by terrorists, by troops, by governments, by criminals. The idea that one has a moral obligation to watch these videos demonstrates how little one comprehends the true depth and breadth of human evil. It is voyeurism hiding under the facade of responsibility.

And I think insominia_lj linked to the video mostly hoping to effectively ban stavros from MeFi. :)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:01 AM on June 25, 2004


"I wasn't implying anything different that what you just said, insomnia_lj."

Perhaps you didn't see my point.

By your logic, you should have no problem then with putting all of the blame for Iraqi civilians killed during the war on U.S. and coalition soldiers. None of that blame should should apply to leaders (on both sides...) who got us into this mess.

Presumably, it's the soldiers -- not the leaders -- who should face criminal prosecution, if justice ever happens, right?

You find it opportunistic to blame those other than the terrorists. I find it opportunistic not to. There's plenty of blame to go around. Care for a slice?!
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:14 AM on June 25, 2004


Yeah, ok. I did miss your original point. I do think that there is a HUGE difference between inadvertently killing civilians (despite efforts to minimize civilian deaths) and specifically targeting and murdering civilians. Though, to be sure, it makes no difference whatsoever to the dead or their loved ones.

To add a bit of nuance however, I also think the (U.S.) leadership should be held accountable for the deaths of innocents, which is precisely WHY you don't go to war unless you have unshakeable moral grounds for doing so. Which I don't believe we had.

To summarize: it's a big shit sandwich, and we're all taking a bite.
posted by psmealey at 5:24 AM on June 25, 2004


I'm as much anti-censorship as humanly possible, but the decapitation video just like Nick Berg's, and the next decapitation video will be just like these we have already seen.
I just don't like MeFi helping ogrish become more popular than it already is, that's all
posted by matteo at 5:27 AM on June 25, 2004


Not every protestor who saw this video was Anti-War
An unexpected reaction was Wednesday’s wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Iraqi sentiment. In South Korea, where nationalist feelings often cross into chauvinism, virtually all men perform military service. ‘‘An innocent son of our nation was murdered,’’ read one of the mass of messages that crashed the Web site of the South Korean Defense Ministry. ‘‘If you allow me to volunteer for Iraq, I will fight terrorists to avenge his death.’’

At a rally in Seoul, conservatives waved placards reading: ‘‘We should declare war against terrorists.’’ Protesters argued that the government should send combat troops to Iraq, instead of military doctors and engineers.

‘‘We want revenge for Kim’s killing,’’ protesters shouted, burning portraits of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Islamic militants who beheaded Kim and dumped his body and head on a road.
posted by swerdloff at 5:38 AM on June 25, 2004


Not every protestor who saw this video was Anti-War

And I'm sure, in his dying moments, the guy was so very proud that his death would be used for propaganda.

psmealy's final line says it best. For either side to talk about this event in any way beyond the fact that it was terrible is exploiting it for their agenda. Were people bored of putting of pictures of flaming buildings?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:12 AM on June 25, 2004


"Not every protestor who saw this video was Anti-War"

True. the effect of the execution is probably likely to polarize South Korean sentiment. That said, there are more people opposed to sending soldiers to Iraq than in favor of it, and I don't think the South Korean government wants that kind of polarization on the eve of their largest military deployment outside of their country in history. Then again, if they hadn't tried hiding and downplaying the kidnapping, there wouldn't be such strong public sentiment.
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:15 AM on June 25, 2004


chaz said it best the (ugh) last time we had a discussion about videotaped beheadings:
You will never get a positive discussion out of this thread. The very nature of this kind of murder is to make people unable to have a rational debate. There is a lot to talk about the issues that swirl around this horrible crime, but when the crime is the basis point for the discussion, you will never be able to have a good discussion, because you can always go back to the crime itself which is so awful as to proclude any rational debate.

It's like discussing the major issues of World War II and starting with the death of Anne Frank at Auschwitz. Anything you try to say about the German economy or Versailles is going to be drowned out by the undeniable fact that a young child was cut down for no other reason then her religion. I advise anyone with anything to say other then "this is fucked up" to back away now. Otherwise you're just going to get angry.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:16 AM on June 25, 2004


insomnia_lj, I still don't see any link between the government initially covering up the kidnapping and a subsequent attempt to hinder the spread of a video dipicting the last few seconds of persons life.
posted by davehat at 6:24 AM on June 25, 2004


"insomnia_lj, I still don't see any link between the government initially covering up the kidnapping and a subsequent attempt to hinder the spread of a video dipicting the last few seconds of persons life."

South Korea's actions are an unprecidented act of censorship. It's one thing to discourage showing the last minutes of someone's life out of respect for them. It's another thing to actively violate people's free speech, shut down websites, and censor email.

Are we to believe they are doing this entirely out of respect for Kim Sun-Il and his family? It should be noted that they requested -- but haven't received -- a tape of the video themselves from the government.

Frankly, the South Korean government's censorship is a political act. It only stands to reason that they did it to avoid significant social and poltical repercussions on the eve of South Korea's largest deployment of troops outside their country in history. It's an incredibly polarizing video, bound to make such the deployment far more acrimonious and devisive.
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:37 AM on June 25, 2004


I find it very amusing that those comments that are so opposed to censorship by the South Korean government neglect to note that their American govt censors and does not allow footage of the coffins of dead Americans killed in Iraq to be shown on TV---why worry about South Korea when that which you dislike takes place daily in your country by your government?
posted by Postroad at 6:50 AM on June 25, 2004


There is a difference between the government censoring something through not releasing information to the public and making it policy for their employees not to do so either, versus actually blocking and shutting down web sites, deleting people's email, and and threatening civilians with prosecution.

Sure, neither is good, but one is far more odious than the other.
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:58 AM on June 25, 2004


For either side to talk about this event in any way beyond the fact that it was terrible is exploiting it for their agenda.

Is that neccessarily true? Isn't it ostensibly because of incidents like this that we're embroiled in these conflicts? I certainly understand anger at them being used cynically, but if we're gonna talk terrorism, this is what we're talking about, in living color.
posted by jonmc at 7:00 AM on June 25, 2004


Do you not think that the act of beheading itself is sufficiant enough to have caused this polarisation of South Korean public opinion?

Frankly, I very much doubt that the actual witnessing of video footage of the last minute of this person's life is significantly going to change someone's opinion on the matter.

As far as I can see, it's the spread of the footage of the beheading we're talking about here. The fact that he has died and the manner in which he died are in the public domain. I think that this desire to "advertise" the video is as Etheral Bligh noted eloquently above, "...voyeurism hiding under the facade of responsibility." I'm not as wordy, so I'd say its titillation for the morbidly inclined.

This reminds me of footage of the Bradford Stadium disaster in 1985. The death of 57 people was broadcast live on ITV. At the request of the berieved and it was requested that the footage only be used in fire safety training. 14 years later it appeared on one of those FOX TV funny/amazing things captured on film TV shows, "When Good Times Go Bad" in the US.

There was an almighty shitstorm about it in the press here and the case went to court in an attempt to seek both redress from those who disclosed it and assurance that the footage would not be shown again.

Was this censorship? Were the relatives wrong to do this? Or should everyone have the right to watch 57 people burn to death, simply because the footage exists.
posted by davehat at 7:19 AM on June 25, 2004


Well we can take SK Govt recent censorship and draw some interesting parallel with what is currently happening in U.S.

You can find the bills texts at Thomas.loc.gov

S.2056 Senate Bill somehow reduced the $500000 fine for each "indecent" broacasted language (presented to Senate by HR 3717 House Bill) but expanded the context from language to language OR images

determined by the Commission under paragraph (1) to have broadcast obscene, indecent, or profane language or images,

the amount of any forfeiture penalty determined under this subsection shall not exceed $275,000 for the first violation, $375,000 for the second violation, and $500,000 for the third and any subsequent violations, with each utterance constituting a separate violation, except that the amount assessed a licensee or permitee for any number of violations in a given 24-hour time period shall not exceed a total of $3,000,000.

Now, before anybody jumps to my throat saying "this is NOT censorship" I say that I agree this is NOT DIRECT censorship, but a more substle version of indirect censorship ; it leaves the broadcaster a choice ..either don't say anything the Commission thinks is
indecent OR say it and pay a fine up to $3Million per day. Many broacasters are incorporated (they're corporations), therefore they will NEVER do anything that could harm their profit (they MUST do so, they're required to pursue stakeholder interest by law afaik).

If this isn't a form of indirect censorship I don't know what it is.

On a tanget: in the same S.2056 the Senate finds:
7) There is a compelling governmental interest in limiting the negative influences of violent video programming on children.

Yeah it's again the protect the childrens. Continue reading the bill to see that cable and sat are exempt, probably because of a
presumption that the parents can lock the decoders/descramblers. Good luck with that.

So I guess adults and childrens must be protected from indecency, and childrens from violence as well. Therefore the beheading
video couldn't be broadcasted in U.S. on free-2-air tv as it would be a) showing violence to childrens during prime time or
b) be deemed indecent by The Commission 24h a day. YET the beheading could be broadcasted on cable/satellite, readily avaiable to
I guess, the majority of U.S. population. But probably no corporate entity will ever broadcast it, fearing bad publicity backslash
or customers boycott. So the chances that it will ever be broadcasted are effectively close to 0.

GOD PLEASE don't ever let them regulate what can be sent on the internet.
posted by elpapacito at 7:49 AM on June 25, 2004


Still, for the SK government to try to hide the truth in order to shape public opinion is wrong - it's but one small step away from lying to get what they want.

posted by spazzm at 4:39 AM PST on June 25


You'd think the SK government would've learned from the Spanish Popular Party: lie about Bad Shit happening (ie pinning the blame on ETA and strongarming the press to say so), and you lose your job. Maybe the SK's government's actions are an attempt to cut opinion off at the pass.

And didn't SK have elections recently? And remember all that impeachment weirdness? And what chaz said? That is fucked up?
posted by RakDaddy at 8:33 AM on June 25, 2004


snuff-porn.
posted by signal at 8:57 AM on June 25, 2004


So I looked at the video. I'm the sort who has to know what the turmoil is all about. What lesson comes from watching?

The lesson for me requires introspection. What do I feel? Are those feelings something I want, or something to avoid? What feelings would be better?

The feelings I don't appreciate are rage and loathing. But I know about those, and set them aside. The dead man? He feels no pain. His family, very sad for them.

What I can not fathom is beheading a tied man accompanied by praises to their deity. "Allah akbar"? What greatness was seen there? Perhaps it was off-camera.

Some will want revenge, its an easy thing to want. It won't do any lasting good. The great thing to do is to make peace. Oh well, no one running things these days is great enough for that accomplishment. Such a pity.
posted by Goofyy at 9:07 AM on June 25, 2004


I don't want to see it, so a question to those who have, was Kim Sun-Il wearing an orange jumpsuit as well?
posted by dabitch at 10:54 AM on June 25, 2004


Did you really need to link to the video to make your point?
posted by davehat at 1:45 AM PST on June 25




but don't tell me that I'm wrong to make the option available to people.

This is a free speech issue that we should all support, unless you like having governments monitor your internet usage, block your email, and tell you what you can and cannot see.

Let the mirroring commence...
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:53 AM PST on June 25


What i notice is that davehat made a comment in the form of a question and insomnia reacts by saying:

"but don't tell me that I'm wrong to make the option available to people".

there is something subtle in this exchange that escapes everyone except davehat. He did not say it was wrong. But in-lj reacts as if he was attacked by the censorship squad, so based on misreading a sentence, we get to read a diatribe on free speech and censorship, which does not really apply to "us", "here" on MeFi. (for the most)
posted by clavdivs at 11:24 AM on June 25, 2004


Insomnia, I couldn't find any evidence that Yahoo is censoring their users' e-mail. Supporting links?
posted by Blue Stone at 11:41 AM on June 25, 2004


South Korea's order was for ISPs, networks, and email providers to block the video from their networks. That obviously means Yahoo! Korea too. They've also blocked search terms such as "beheading" too. A friend of mine in South Korea has confirmed all this.

Here is a quote regarding Yahoo Korea's take on this:

"...we are going to delete any pictures or video footage that show the killing of the Korean hostage."
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:01 PM on June 25, 2004


did you guys see the video clip of kids reenacting the beheading and having a laugh at it? (in case you have trouble locating it, it's at the top just under Muslims is teh funnay)

I doubt the kids did this all on their own... they prolly had help from an older teen or an adult with a strange sense of humour.
posted by titboy at 2:37 PM on June 25, 2004


Insomnia_lj, the link you provide says nothing about email. It seems to be more about portal content - Yahoo Groups for example - which is quite different to Yahoo censoring people's personal correspondence.
posted by Blue Stone at 3:46 PM on June 25, 2004


Just for the record, this is one of the reasons I continue to support the war. Kidnapping, attacking, and beheading someone who was in country to help? Perhaps he shouldn't be there and leave the country to rot instead? Rot under Saddam or rot under Al-Sadr?

As a Liberal, who believes in the spread of Liberal values, I'm saddened by the number of people who look at this beheading and say that it's propoganda for the US or SK governments. The beheading was a tragedy, and the video was propoganda to set fear into our hearts.

To flee now would be tantamount to Reagan's 82 blunder, or Clinton's Somalia experience. For the SK to turn cowardly like the Spanish would be horrible.

Some things are worth fighting for. And, as little as I want to do it, dying for. Freedom is one of them, no matter how cynical you all are about it.
posted by swerdloff at 5:50 PM on June 25, 2004


For the SK to turn cowardly like the Spanish would be horrible.

'Turn cowardly'? Sorry, but you haven't got a fucking clue what you're talking about, swerdloff. Cowardice has nothing to do with it.

Some things are worth fighting for. And, as little as I want to do it, dying for. Freedom is one of them, no matter how cynical you all are about it.

Then go die for it, already, and please stop telling others that they are cowardly if they do not.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:35 PM on June 25, 2004


Oh joy. Apparently, my journal has now been blocked by the South Korean government.

Frankly, they should have better things to do.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:11 AM on June 26, 2004


There is nothing cowardly about being unwilling to participate in a war of aggression. A people who were against the war before and after an act of terrorism loose no face by being more against it afterwards. This clearly applies to the Spanish. To say otherwise is no more than pure Bushit. I gathered that it applies equally to the Koreans.

That being said, it is equally clear that for the US to simply leave Iraq is a bad formula. Sadly, Bush went in, tore the place into smaller bits than it already was from the embargo. Now the US has to leave things in better shape than before the invasion. Seems to me the Geneva Convention requires that. At the least, we must pass the responsibility to an acceptable authority.
posted by Goofyy at 3:36 AM on June 26, 2004


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