Monday, August 15, 2005

my undiplomatic email to the MIC

[I've BCC'ed this message to various bloggers and news sources. Feel free to use it however you like.]

ATTN: Mr. JM Ryu, Ministry of Information and Communication
FROM: Kevin Kim
RE: blog censorship

Since Friday, August 12th, 2005, I have been unable to access weblogs (blogs) hosted by BlogSpot ( and Typepad ( I suspect that these domains are being blocked, and further suspect (along with several other people) that this blockage has something to do with Korean Independence Day and/or the visit by the North Korean delegation.

I am writing to your office to protest this blockage, which has been reported and confirmed by a number of people. The blockage brings back memories of a similar act of censorship last year following the Kim Sun-il beheading video (early summer 2004). Is the government planning to make such blockage a yearly summertime event?

Controlling access to information is shameful, especially in a supposedly open, democratic society like South Korea. Freedom of speech is a basic requirement for a healthy society. The government has no right to control what people say, nor should it (within limits) dictate how people should act.

Censorship is rooted in fear and mistrust. It assumes that citizens and residents have no idea how to care for themselves, and that "government knows best," which is an insulting attitude. What does the government fear from expat bloggers? Most South Koreans aren't fluent enough in English to read the expat blogs, and besides, most expat blogs are far from extreme in nature. In fact, quite a few bloggers take the time to express their love for and admiration of Korean culture.

The funniest thing about the current censorship is that it has failed to block the most popular expat blogs. Having learned from last year's lessons, many bloggers have shifted to their own private domains to escape repression.

As a matter of public relations, censorship works AGAINST the South Korean government, making it (and the rest of South Korea) look clumsy and stupid to much of the rest of the world. Perhaps the South Korean government feels that such repressive measures will endear it to China, which also has little respect for the rights of its citizens. Perhaps this censorship is a tribute to the repressive tendencies of North Korea. In my opinion, South Korea can be better than this: it can lead by example, by never again seeking to repress online activity, whether of expats or of its own citizens.

Freedom involves risk. Some people will take advantage of a free and open society; they will push the boundaries of good taste in their efforts to shock and degrade. But we can't afford to fear these dangers if we are truly committed to the ideals of free speech, the free exchange of ideas and information. A shock can be beneficial; it can rouse people from their complacency. A society that allows no such freedom will stultify and wither.

I would like the MIC (or the ISPs answering to it) to end the current blockage immediately. I am not alone in deploring this shameful situation. End the censorship NOW.



Jason said...

Right on, Kevin. i'm going to link to this post if you don't mind (I think the, like, 3 people who read my drivel will find it interesting.).

Lay 'em down an' smack 'em jack 'em,


Anonymous said...

Hear, hear!

Anonymous said...

Here here? hear?


Anonymous said...

No beer here!

Anonymous said...


I've also sent a slightly edited version of your letter.

Fight the power!
Fuck the MIC!

Jelly said...

Sing it Sister!

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