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The dark side of South Korea's K-pop world

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on November 28, 2019 - Duration: 02:08s

The dark side of South Korea's K-pop world

The apparent suicide of a second K-pop artist in a month has cast renewed focus in South Korea on vicious personal attacks and cyber bullying of vulnerable young stars, and how it mostly goes unpunished.

Lauren Anthony reports.

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The dark side of South Korea's K-pop world

The dark underbelly of K-pop is under the spotlight once again, after the apparent suicide of a second artist in a month.

Casting a renewed focus on the vicious personal attacks and cyber bullying, targeted at vulnerable young stars in the South Korean pop scene - and, how most of it, goes unpunished.

Something comedian-turned-counsellor Kown Young-Chan, wishes would change.

(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN COMEDIAN-TURNED-COUNSELLOR, KWON YOUNG-CHAN, SAYING: "In South Korea, celebrities live off people's attention.

So usually they (the celebrities) drop the charges and people start thinking 'Hey, we don't actually get punished.

All we need to do is apologize later on, and there's no problem.'

These precedents make the general public unaware of how serious these malicious comments are and how similar they are to murder." The police do deem cyber violence a serious crime.

And have a program that educates the public on how not to fall victim to online attacks - or to become the perpetrator.

But they say it's difficult to deal with online bullying, and that there is no real help for the victims. Jeon Min-su is from the police cyber crime unit.

(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN CYBER CRIME INVESTIGATOR AT SEOUL METROPOLITAN POLICE AGENCY, JEON MIN-SU, SAYING: "Normally, when you are injured from physical violence, you can go to a hospital to get treated and recover.

But online violence is a bigger problem because it can't be treated that way and can sometimes even lead to death." K-pop singer Koo Hara was found dead at her home on Sunday (December 1).

A note was found detailing the vicious online messages she had received.

About, local media say, her relationships with men.

Koo was friends with fellow K-pop star Sulli, who was found dead in October.

They both spoke openly against cyber bullying.

One lawmaker now says it's time for the government to step in.

(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, PARK SUN-SOOK, SAYING: "The law I am proposing defines hate discrimination as illegal information and allows anyone, not just the victim, to request comment be taken down.

Celebrities who are engaged in pop culture, especially those who are young, are defenselessly exposed to cyber violence.

Now it is time for law, and society, to protect them."

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