South Korea blocks major weblog services.
July 1, 2004 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Mr. Roh, tear down this firewall! South Korea's previous efforts to censor the beheading video of Kim Sun-Il have escalated considerably. They are now blocking most major weblog services, including Blogger/Blogspot, TypePad, and LiveJournal -- a degree of censorship for weblogs even greater than that of China. The rallying cry of opposition seems to be centering around this letter :
"I am writing this letter not primarily to criticize all Koreans .... No, my purpose is more specific: to cause the South Korean government as much embarrassment as possible, and perhaps to motivate Korean citizens to engage in some much-needed introspection. To this end, I need the blogosphere's help .... The best and quickest way to persuade the South Korean government to back down from its current position is to make it lose face in the eyes of the world." If you are interested in giving the South Korean Ministry of Information and Culture a piece of your mind, please email them at:
posted by insomnia_lj (16 comments total)
Jesus, that explains why one of my blog's co-authors who's in Seoul hasn't made any updates.

Another girl I know in Seoul who has been there for a couple of years now seems to be going native, making apologies for the censorship, saying it's probably for the best, that sort of thing.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:06 PM on July 1, 2004

I think it's pretty funny that North Korea is supposed to be the axis-of-evil place, and yet the South Korean government thinks it's just fine to get up to things like this.
posted by reklaw at 1:33 PM on July 1, 2004

No action was taken for any of the previous videotaped atrocities by the usual suspects. *Why now?

*[rhetorical question]
posted by hama7 at 1:46 PM on July 1, 2004

*[rhetorical question]

posted by Space Coyote at 1:55 PM on July 1, 2004

posted by Space Coyote at 10:55 PM CET on July 1

Why didn't SK censor Paul Johnson's death, in other words.
posted by the fire you left me at 2:09 PM on July 1, 2004

Methinks it time for stavros to appear and say that both Koreas are equally deranged.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:49 PM on July 1, 2004

I think this has more to do with the pleas and begging Sun-Il did. It is very sad and, perhaps in the eyes of many, not a brave way to die. I think it comes down to someone perceiving him to be a coward. Since I have only heard the pleas and not the beheading, (I see no earthly reason for watching this) this could be a factor not the horrid way in which it was done.

"Kim Sun-il has become a martyr to the anti-dispatch cause. And what of the culpability of the terrorists who killed him? An Internet poll of more than 4,500 South Koreans has found that almost 40% of respondents believe the United States is responsible for Kim's death, almost double the 23% who found those wielding the knife responsible."

this could be a factor.
i do not get it, does 40% of South Koreas polled think it was U.S. solders who did this or that "we made" South Korea contribute troops to the coalition?
posted by clavdivs at 4:05 PM on July 1, 2004

Methinks it time for stavros to appear and say that both Koreas are equally deranged.

Both Koreas are equally deranged!

When did I ever say that? The ROK is broken, sure, but the DPRK is fundamentally fuxored. I'd never be simpleminded enough to draw a straight line between the two. Thanks for putting words into my mouth, Pretty_Generic. Thanks in the rarely-used sense of 'piss off, smart-ass!'

I can confirm that Blogger is unavailable from here, but I can in fact reach the servers, so it's not firewalled. The error is a
Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
I can reach Typepad just fine. Livejournal I can't seem to get to, though.

This is an astonishingly stupid decision by the ROK government of course -- particularly in light of their forward-thinking policies with regard to the internet -- but not untypical in the sense that they do stupid things on a regular basis.

My feeling is that this is one of those things that comes as a result of the imperial directive of some wrinkly old prick in a position of power, not necessarily in the government, who threw a tizzy and issued orders that it must happen. A worryingly large number of decisions in most areas of governance, corporate and otherwise, happen as a result of old men who think they're god here in Korea. [See also Sun Myung Moon.] It will pass.

Historically, this has happened before, back in the bad old days before blogging, when Geocities was blocked, and there have been times (possibly apocryphal) when Dave's ESL Cafe was blocked as well.

As far as why now? It should be obvious to hama7, who lived in Korea for a time. The other guys who got topped were not Korea, and non-Koreans simply aren't as important as Koreans to most people here. Fact of life, but not different in nature from the impetus that makes American (or Canadian) news stories lead off with things like "400 people died in a 747 crash in Buttfuzz, Egypt today. Three Americans were on board..."

Gotta run. More on this later, perhaps.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:59 PM on July 1, 2004

By the way, here's a small shoutout to my fellow Daehan Minguk inmates, Marmot and Blinger. Pa-i-ting!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:29 PM on July 1, 2004

Blogger is once more accessible from here in Jeollanam-do. Livejournal remains off the air.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:52 PM on July 1, 2004

I've read that your ability to access the major weblog services, though restricted to some degree, varies depending upon your ISP and location.

Perhaps the ISPs are caught between the desires of their customers for unfettered Internet and the the desire of the government for them to censor certain sites. Or perhaps some of them really aren't very competent about network security.

Either way, some of the ISPs appear to be complying in the least effective manner possible, which is a nice thing to see. It makes the censorship even more ludicrous, one would think, especially considering all the proxy servers that have been set up to route around it.
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:34 PM on July 1, 2004

stavros, I'm sorry, I think it must be someone else who made that claim. It was a dumb comment of mine.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:37 AM on July 2, 2004

No worries, mate. I hit back a bit hard myself, but I was shocked and bemused (and exercised) that somebody'd think I'd say something so dirt-stick-stone stupid.

[Not that I never say anything stupid, but I try to be reasonably undumb about the place I live (and the people I choose to live with), as much as I am able.]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:49 AM on July 2, 2004

*[rhetorical question]

non-Koreans simply aren't as important as Koreans to most people here

That's only part of the equation, as Koreans aren't as important as Koreans, sometimes. I'm not buying the sqeamish angle, either, in part because of the graphic photographs of the remains of the two schoolgirls killed accidentally by an American military convoy which were plastered all over the subways and streetcorners, to cite but one example.

Clavdivs got the rest, in that there exists a deranged segment of the younger Korean populace which sees the United States behind every real or imagined problem, and the only thing standing between them and a group hug and reunification with their favorite North Korean dictatorial regime. I know they do not represent a majority voice, but they are vocal. Forget the fact that the South Korean military forces in Iraq are not combat troops, but are helping to rebuild infrastructure and assist, there are still those who will blame Bush and not the criminals who actually comitted the crime.

The Marmot and the Yangban have some useful information.

I have no intention of verifying this bit of hearsay by watching the video, but it appears that Kim Sun-il expressed distaste for the Noh Moo-Hyun administration, to put it lightly, and acrimony toward the United States, which still is not really reason enough for a national ban on internet access in a somewhat free country. Rather than preventing people from viewing the video, it will likely have the opposite effect.

Hostage dreamed of marrying Iraqi girl.
posted by hama7 at 7:56 AM on July 2, 2004

That's only part of the equation, as _Koreans_ aren't as important as Koreans, sometimes.

This is true, if I understand your meaning, and more insightful than I would have given you credit for. Will wonders never cease?

a deranged segment of the younger Korean populace

There are those with whom I have contact in their 30s and 40s who share the same 'we're all brothers, the DPRK would never kill us, their blood-kin' delusion, who go silent when I bring up the fact that 3 million died after similar sentiments were expressed by the terminally hopeful half a century ago. Such foolishness is not merely the province of the young, unfortunately.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:06 AM on July 2, 2004

in their 30s and 40s

Those are the young ones! :)

I have no idea what the kids must be saying.
posted by hama7 at 2:55 PM on July 2, 2004

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