South Korea censors internet, hides opposition to government

Now there's a sentence you'd never expect to see. South Korea has hopped on the online censorship bandwagon. Like North Korea and China, South Korea is now controlling what its citizens can see online.

Seoul, one of the most highly-connected cities in the world, is now liable to be censored further.

So far it doesn't seem major, but it's still something that's going to be causing concern. A government critic in South Korea posted a tweet where he cursed the president, and discovered it was blocked. An online activist posted on Twitter that the government officials were much like pirates for approving a controversial naval base. He's now being accused by the navy of 'criminal defamation'.

One judge posted online that the president was out to "screw" internet users. He found himself out of the job pretty soon afterwards, in what was assumed to be a form of retaliation against the comment.

Choe Sang-Hun writes for the New York Times, explaining the attitudes of the government and how the country is approaching the internet. You'd never really expect this from South Korea. Its northern neighbours you'd expect nothing else from, but South Korea is one of the most highly connected countries in the world.

When they're taking steps to ensure you can't see certain things then it's time to take notice. The reason for the censorship is a culture clash between the old and the new Korea. The country's past was much less connected to the rest of the world, and now the leadership is trying to cling onto what's left of that past.

Earlier this year, South Korea was listed as one of the 'Enemies of the Internet' by Reporters without Borders. This was a study finding countries most intolerant of the internet, and it saw South Korea lining up alongside Russia, Egypt, and others known for their dislike of dissent.

It's crazy to consider that in a country where more than one in ten citizens own a Samsung Galaxy SII that internet could be monitored as such. Censorship of pro-North material isn't really surprising, with the two countries still very much at each others' throats. China is well known for its part in reducing internet freedoms.

One of the best examples of Chinese authority online is the Tiananmen Square incident. No results come up when 'Tiananmen Square' is searched for, and it's censored across the entirety of China's internet. There are people brave enough, or crazy enough, to try and bypass these censors. While South Korea doesn't seem to be going that way it does seem that government is holding back the country's progress by clinging onto a past which is now long forgotten elsewhere.

Source: New York Times
Seoul at Night via Shutterstock

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34 Comments

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There is a huge difference between countries and what their citizens can or can not say without consequences, but in reality, freedom of speech is for people who can afford independence or have no difficulty to find new job. Al lot of people think that they have freedom of speech when in reality their voice simply doesn't matter.

It's crazy to consider that in a country where more than one in ten citizens own a Samsung Galaxy SII that internet could be monitored as such.

What's the relation between owning a product made by a South Korean company and being monitored by the South Korean government?

It always begins with "In the name of National Security"... ALWAYS!!!

I'm actually enjoying how the infowars is spreading into my favorite communities First it was RadioIO and now it's Neowin! Keep spreading the news guys!!

With more and more governments realizing how the Internet works and how to block its democratic potential, there will be a move towards more censorship.

THolman said,

It only happens so long as the people tolerate it.

Thing is, loyalists in the various armies can slaughter opposition if so ordered. It doesn't matter how many millions there are in opposition - every country can probably slaughter everyone not in their military easily due to how advanced weapon tech is that isn't available to the general public.

Jaybonaut said,

Thing is, loyalists in the various armies can slaughter opposition if so ordered. It doesn't matter how many millions there are in opposition - every country can probably slaughter everyone not in their military easily due to how advanced weapon tech is that isn't available to the general public.

Just remember that the people in the military are human, just like us. They have families and care about the same things we do. By and large I think they are decent folks who want to help, not hurt. There's a certain point when they stop following orders, too.

good move South Korea people need to shut they mouth if u have nothing good to say something don't say anything , remember much of the time when you say something bad u get in trouble. .. just keep your mouth shut and stay out of problem.

Gaara sama said,
good move South Korea people need to shut they mouth if u have nothing good to say something don't say anything , remember much of the time when you say something bad u get in trouble. .. just keep your mouth shut and stay out of problem.

Yes, because the government always have the peoples best interest at heart and free speech is overrated.

Gaara sama said,
good move South Korea people need to shut they mouth

I wish you had taken your own advice, then I wouldn't have had to read that ridiculous post.

You do first

Gaara sama said,
good move South Korea people need to shut they mouth if u have nothing good to say something don't say anything , remember much of the time when you say something bad u get in trouble. .. just keep your mouth shut and stay out of problem.

Gaara sama said,
good move South Korea people need to shut they mouth if u have nothing good to say something don't say anything , remember much of the time when you say something bad u get in trouble. .. just keep your mouth shut and stay out of problem.

This HAS to be a troll attempt - it should be obvious to most people.

ambiance said,

Yes, because the government always have the peoples best interest at heart and free speech is overrated.

And yet when some tech sites do the same exact thing to posts, we apologize and say we'll try to behave better.

An alarming trend.

At least with China you know what you're getting, they don't deny they block and censor. I find the approach of those that try to hide it or try to use 'protect the children' as a reason to try to censor, to be far more insidious and dangerous to freedom.

Lovell said,
Wont be long before more countries follow suit.
It's Joe Biden's fault ordering the arrest of Kim Dotcom. The govts now think they can go round doing what they want to the internet.

Calum said,
Have they decided they'd like to be more like their friends in the north? Terrible.

And Britain, and the United States, and China, and India, and Iran, and Israel, and Australia.

They're acting like every other government.

It's terrible when others call other nations out for this but do nothing when their own perform such actions.

Lightless said,

And Britain, and the United States, and China, and India, and Iran, and Israel, and Australia.

They're acting like every other government.

It's terrible when others call other nations out for this but do nothing when their own perform such actions.


I haven't ever heard of Britain censoring opinions of the government. That is what I was calling terrible. What are you trying to claim? That Britain and those others censor some opinions? If so, what opinions? Also, it might be good if you provide a source for your claims.

Lightless said,

And Britain, and the United States, and China, and India, and Iran, and Israel, and Australia.

Agreed with Calum - the US government doesn't (yet, anyway) censor political opinions, or really anything other than piracy and child porn.
At least, I've not heard of them censoring anything else O.O

Calum said,

I haven't ever heard of Britain censoring opinions of the government. That is what I was calling terrible. What are you trying to claim? That Britain and those others censor some opinions? If so, what opinions? Also, it might be good if you provide a source for your claims.

It shouldn't matter what they censor... But the fact that they do.

Britain don't really need to censor criticism against the government as the population are largely ignorant anyway, like in most Western countries.

Lightless said,

It shouldn't matter what they censor... But the fact that they do.

Britain don't really need to censor criticism against the government as the population are largely ignorant anyway, like in most Western countries.


he asked for sources and clarification of what you said Britan was "censoring"
quite frankly, I'm interested too

Lightless said,

It shouldn't matter what they censor... But the fact that they do.

Britain don't really need to censor criticism against the government as the population are largely ignorant anyway, like in most Western countries.


As Matthew_Thepc reaffirmed, I'm after a source. You've claimed it as fact, but I haven't ever heard of them censoring any opinions. Like Matthew_Thepc said, I've only heard of them censoring illegal things like piracy and child porn.

Calum said,

I've only heard of them censoring illegal things like piracy and child porn.

Ironic really, don't you agree? The fact you have never heard of if could in fact be due to censorship.

Toysoldier said,

Ironic really, don't you agree? The fact you have never heard of if could in fact be due to censorship.


It isn't ironic until proof is exposed of them having censored the opinions I haven't seen

Calum said,

It isn't ironic until proof is exposed of them having censored the opinions I haven't seen

You don't seem to get it, If they don't want you to see it, you wont see it, you may never even hear of it, therefore perhaps that's why you may never know about it.

Toysoldier said,

You don't seem to get it, If they don't want you to see it, you wont see it, you may never even hear of it, therefore perhaps that's why you may never know about it.


I understood what you meant I was just pointing out that it can't be deemed ironic until we know that's the case For now, we would only be able to speculate that it might be ironic (as we don't know whether it's happening)

(Sorry--I'm quite pedantic, ha.)