There have been a rising number of suicides in South Korea resulting from malicious comments/replies on the Internet. Internet defamation is one of the largest contributors to rising suicide rates in Korea as well as the United States. There are legal implications between trying to limit speech on the internet and trying to protect citizens of the world against the growing defamation and invasion of privacy which is taking place around the world. The United States began implementing legal routes to protect its citizens during the 1990s and recently, South Korea began to implement their own legal routes to protect citizens. There are cultural and technological influences behind internet defamation and suicide in South Korea which must undergo tremendous changes before a stop to the increasing link between internet defamation and suicide can be stopped.
South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the industrialized world with an average of 35 suicides per day. Their rate is 2.5 times that of the United States and even surpasses Japan—a country known for culturally embedded suicides. While the rates of suicide peaked in wealthy countries during the 1980s, South Korea’s figures have continued to climb . The suicide rate in South Korea was the lowest in the industrial world prior to the country getting rich and causing worries and stress. Of the 30 countries which are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Koreans work more, sleep less and spend more money per capita on cram schools than residents of the 29 other industrialized countries.
Suicide in South Korea has increased rapidly among rural elderly. Senior citizens were noted as often not prepared for old age and were not being cared for by their children. These people are neglected by family who find that the newer generations are addicted to the internet. The internet has created an anonymous social interaction for young people who want to participate in online games or forums, also referred to as Multi-User Domains, or MUD’s. The game which has arisen allows users to act like themselves or as far from themselves as possible.
By utilizing these MUD’s, people without any self-esteem are able to get online and find young adults who express similar feelings of angst and not being understood by their family or friends. They create bonds through their sad conditions and because of this find comfort in collective suicides. While one might think that having healthy common sense would remind users that these MUD’s are intrinsically unsocial and unhealthy, the relationships that young people create with their computers teach their minds and hearts that internet relationships are the most important thing and by default, the ideas and defamation posted by other online users should be taken to heart and not assumed to be a posting by a coward who knows nothing.
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