News Link: Korea Herald/
Jung Yoo-jung, a sophomore atChung-ang Univeristy, was given anextraordinary mission in April: visiting internet sites attacked bymalicious comments
and leavingpositive messages on their bulletinboards.
She visited the website of "Girls` Talk," a KBS entertainment show, inwhich 16 foreigners talk in Korean about life here.
The program`s online bulletin board had been bombarded with messagesby anonymous internet users condemning
their negative views andmisunderstanding of local culture and even their poor pronunciation of theKorean language.
Jung and her classmates wrote memos praising the program`s efforts topursue an understanding between different
cultures and the foreignpanelists` candid appraisals of things Korean.
A message reads, "I liked the honest opinions of Saori (a Japanesepanelist). People shouldn`t force her to mention
only the good sides ofKorea."
"It makes me feel like I`m doing the right thing when people come back tome with friendly responses. Some of them
have apologized for theirprevious messages on the bulletin board." said Jung, a chemistry major.
The campaign was initiated by professor Min Byoung-chul, a renownedEnglish educator. He gave the assignment
to about 570 students in hisglobal leadership lecture at the university in the hopes of countering theculture of hatred
on the internet and promoting the value of mutual helpand respect.
One month later, this simple student assignment has grown into a widespread campaign as an increasing number
of internet sites andcitizens are taking part.
Leading internet portals such as Daum and Naver have put up a banner toencourage netizens to leave supportive
comments. Local administrationoffices in Daegu, North Gyeongsang Province, and Hampyeong in SouthJeolla Province,
have also begun a joint online campaign to promotefriendship and better understanding between the two provinces,
which arepolitically at odds with each other.
Min will launch the Sunple Movement today, a group to lead the posting ofpositive online messages, with students,
civic activists, TV entertainersand other volunteers from all walks of life.
In an interview with The Korea Herald, Min said he began the campaignafter the shocking suicides last year of two
female stars, Jeong Da-binand Yuni, who both hanged themselves after being diagnosed with severedepression.
Before their deaths, their homepages had been deluged with disparagingallegations and scorn over their private
lives and choices, such asundergoing plastic surgery.
"I decided to do something about this deadly internet slander plaguingsuch talented people and the whole nation,"
"This campaign will change cyberspace, which often overflows withmalicious comments and slander against celebrities,
politicians andindividuals, into a friendlier and more civilized place," Min said.
His students have also sent encouraging messages to several troubledcelebrities such as Ha Ri-su, a transgender
singer, and Oh Ji-ho, anactor whose ex-girlfriend committed suicide after their breakup.
"Korea is one of the most wired countries in the world and the internetculture established in Korea is going to be
the barometer for othercountries to follow. We hope this movement can expand abroad as well." Min said.
The campaign is an extension of the so-called Chuimsae Movement, a social campaign to encourage a culture of harmony.
Min and a group of opinion leaders in 2005 launched the movement, which encourages people to respect,
compliment and help others tosucceed.
The name is derived from an expression used by drummers to cuesingers, as well as excite the audience in the
traditional performance artof "pansori." It is equivalent to "There you go!" or "Attaboy!"
One of the most active participants in the Chuimsae Movement is ShinhanBank, the country`s third-largest commercial lender.
The bank, which acquired Chohung Bank in 2003, launched the onlinecampaign last September to promote
a new corporate culture of harmonyand encouragement among employees.
The online bulletin board has received over 100,000 messages ofencouragement and compliments so far.
"At first, they tried to get to know each other just to be able to complimenteach other but now it has changed
the whole working atmosphere. Itdefinitely broke down the invisible barrier among employees." said KimHo-dae, senior vice president of Employees Service Center at the bank.
Min said that the spirit of mutual assistance is deeply rooted in Koreans` culture.
"But too much competition and policies on university admission havemade our true nature die on us.
You will to lose the game if the othersshove and go ahead of you in the competition. You`re brought up
not toappreciate the success of others," he said.
He attributed the spread of malicious comments online partly to a lack ofthe culture of sound discussion.