At Wired, Joshua Davis has penned an indepth and disturbing piece on the online crusade against rapper Daniel Lee, a.k.a. Tablo. Here’s just a sample:
After entertainment gossip sites wrote about the anti-Lee site, TaJinYo’s membership swelled to more than 100,000. Not content to wait for more allegations to emerge, many forum members launched their own investigations into Lee’s past. Soon, in a birtherlike onslaught, Stanford professors and administrators were flooded with emails from people questioning Lee’s educational background. Thomas Black, the Stanford registrar, received 133 emails on the subject. Everybody wanted to know one thing: Was Lee telling the truth?
Forum members seemed to relish the digital inquisition. “We call this game
,” wrote one heckler, who referred to himself as a Tablo Online player, as if it were a casual pastime to be enjoyed during work breaks. Whatbecomes expertly fanned the flames, threatening to reveal dark secrets about Lee and promising to unveil them slowly for maximum dramatic effect. It was, he said, “more fun that way.”
Whatbecomes began hinting at a broader conspiracy: The media was colluding to protect Lee, because he was part of Korea’s upper crust. But the average citizen could fight back. “By proving Tablo’s fraud this time, the deep-rooted symbiotic relationship [between the media and the rich] can be cut off,” he wrote.
Tablo’s cousin, Seungmin Cho, who helped fan the flames by reportedly joining the lynch mob, seems like an interesting fellow, too:
In a six-paragraph rant, Cho went on to accuse Lee of inflating his IQ score and falsely claiming to be a top student in high school and college. Lee, he wrote, was even a screwup as a kid and got kicked out of middle school. “For the record, this is not jealousy,” Cho added. “I have no reason to be jealous of an individual whom I obviously despise for his lack of candor.”
[Former SIS teacher] Simmons didn’t respond; she was baffled that her comment had provoked such vitriol. Three days later, Cho wrote again: “One more thing, Ms. Simmons. Great people of east Asia don’t need you. We will own this century, and the next, and the next, until all non-Asians are essentially pounded to submission … Of course, it is the mission of thought leaders like myself who will propel what will be united Korea in the meantime.”
The Marmot’s Hole: Waiting to Be Essentially Pounded to Submission, Since 2003.
Anyway, as one of my former employers used to say, the netizens are scary. I try not to bash the netizenry too much—Korean cyberspace is a very rich place, you can find online nutjobs everwhere, and I think a lot of the criticism I’ve been reading (at least within Korea) has been politically motivated. Still, when Korea’s much-praised IT connectivity is combined with the country’s small size and social grievences against “the elite” (not all of which are unjustified, mind you), the results can be quite frightening.
(HT to readers, including my brother)