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Clerics back end to online racism

Upsurge in abuse follows national outcry over alleged rape, murder

Stephen Hong, Seoul

April 19, 2012

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Churchmen are backing a proposed crackdown on racism on the internet following an upsurge of abusive and “xenophobic’’ messages on forum sites. The messages come in the wake of a gruesome murder allegedly committed by a migrant worker and after a Philippine-born Korean woman was elected to the National Assembly in recent polls. The Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC) announced on April 17 it will tighten its online monitoring to prevent a slew of online attacks against migrant workers from spreading further. On April 1, a Korean-Chinese worker, surnamed Wu, allegedly raped and killed a young woman in the city of Suwon. Police reportedly arrested him in his bathroom while he was dismembering the victim's body. The case caused a national outcry and led to the resignation of the country’s police chief. Jesuit Father Thomas Lee Jong-jin said he recognized the need for the watchdog to regulate such comments in light of recent events. "Comments that incite racism or xenophobia have to be regulated," the professor at the Jesuit-run Sogang University in Seoul said today. But the commission should establish "concrete and clear standards" for it as "it could lead to the suppression of freedom of expression," he warned. Reverend Kim Chang-hyun, executive secretary of the National Christian Council of Korea also gave his backing, calling the online abuse an unreasonable and hysterical reaction. “You can’t argue to deport all migrant foreigners in the country just because a few have done wrong," he said. Nam Hye-young, executive manager of the KCSC, said today that the commission has been forced to act. "Since the murder case, there have been a growing number of extreme and xenophobic comments posted on the internet." More recently, she added "there have also been many racist comments directed at Jasmine Lee." Lee, a Filipino-Korean, was elected to the national assembly in recent polls becoming the country’s first non-native born lawmaker. Nam said the watchdog said it has already deleted six offensive posts since early this year, including one which took a swipe at Korean-Chinese people for their apparent smell. Those found to have violated the commission’s regulations will be prohibited from logging on or their posts will be deleted, Nam added.  
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