South Korea to crack down against spreading malicious rumors online


SEOUL — South Korean police said Sunday they plan a crackdown on people who spread malicious rumors on the Internet, a practice they blame for last week’s suicide of a local actress. The National Police Agency said it would have 900 officers investigating online as part of a month-long operation beginning on Monday to hunt, arrest and punish those who spread false and vicious rumors on the Internet. The agency said in a statement “the spread of malicious and groundless messages on the Internet recently led to their victim’s suicide” referring to the death of Choi Jin-Sil Thursday. Choi, 40, a mother of two, was found hanging from a length of elastic at her Seoul home. Police concluded she had committed suicide. Police investigators, citing her relatives and friends, said Choi had been in agony over Internet rumors that she had lent a huge sum of money to a local actor who killed himself in early September under heavy debts. Police found no monetary links between Choi and the actor. A security worker was arrested for spreading false rumors about her online.

The ruling party is pushing for legislation against online libel but the main opposition party opposes it for fear of undermining freedom of speech.