straw men, straw tweets

Old media power feels that they are being undermined by emerging media, which is usually called social network. On occasions, the public exchanges each other’s opinion and empowers a movement without any mediation of the old media, so their woes are not insubstantial. But as we saw in the last general election, the power of the established old media still rules over the nation. In my opinion, we saw the nation’s political view is now also polarized between the capital area and the other area. Did the economic polarization beget the polarization of the political view? Well, it remains to be seen.

Anyway the oldies are doing their best to keep the public away from those abhorrent social media, especially Twitter, which drew political forces the most since the Seoul mayoral by-election. The Big 3 newspapers, Chosun, Joongang, Donga, which I would like to name CJD, used to describe the social media (but they always refer to Twitter) as an epicenter of unconfirmed, unscrupulous rumors and here comes the recent case:

The Philippine-born naturalized Korean citizen Jasmine Lee, who became a Saenuri Party lawmaker, has been the victim of malicious attacks on the Internet since the April 11 general election. People have been posting malicious comments about her on Twitter and other social networks, somehow linking her to the grisly murder of a young woman recently killed by an ethnic Korean from China.

“This is the true face of multiculturalism which is bleeding Korean society dry,” one commenter wrote. “We will see a rise in marriages for money,” wrote another, denigrating mixed-race marriages involving Korean men and foreign brides.

from an op-ed of the Chosun Ilbo, April 17th 2012
(emphasis mine)

Right after a series of reports of the malicious comments was poured by major news outlets, people began wondering where the comments are, because almost none of them didn’t see them. Some independent bloggers pointed out that the tweets that the outlets quoted were from suspicious users, whose follower is only one or whose activity is so irregular that may be suspected as straw men. And what the outlets presented as evidence were, in fact, condemning xenophobic comments, which are almost insubstantial but were reported by the media.

In fact, this tweet was meant to ridicule the Chosun report and the ruling New Frontier Party.
(source: OhmyNews)

Right on time, the NFP issued an official comment denouncing “a violation of human rights on social minorities.” The Ddanzi Ilbo, alternative online newspaper whose head is the mastermind behind the I am a Weasel podcast, reported that the twitter handles that were used to retweet the campaign tweets from the then GNP (the GNP changed its name to NFP last February), again, retweeted the xenophobia report.

This case reveals much of the current social situation of SK, in regard of what might be called social media awareness. I don’t think that the Chosun and the NFP think that they would convince those who are using Twitter. They are aiming to those who don’t use it. It is said that over a half of the SNS users are living in the capital area. And the result of the last general election shows that even if the ruling party loses the capital area, they can make up from the other.

The old regionalism is, although slightly, fading away. But SK is being divided into another two. At first it was economic and now it’s becoming political and generational.


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