SNS and Chirashi
Advertisement: Dangerous Rumors, which opened on February 20, 2014, is a Korean film that turns the spotlight on the seamy underbelly of the Korean Internet. The original title in Korean is Chirashi, a word most Koreans are familiar with but merits explanation for readers from different cultures. The term chirashi, also sometimes used to refer to the stock market, is used in this case to refer to discreetly circulated newsletters of blind items, typically concerned with defaming public figures such as celebrities or politicians.
In Korean, the word chirashi means “flyer.” While a flyer can be an advertisement for anything, in Korea, the Japanese loanword chirashi usually refers to cheap flyers handed out on the street. Nowadays the word is increasingly used to refer to blind gossip rather than its more prosaic meaning.
To be fair, spreading gossip and sharing rumors is practically a human instinct. The problem is that this “instinct” has gained lightning speed and devastating power, thanks to social networking services (SNS). Unlike the pre-Internet days, when gossip was spread by word of mouth, gossip in the digital world spreads at a speed that has nothing to do with its veracity. At some point, people began sharing chirashi on SNS such as Facebook or Kakao Talk (a popular Korean instant messaging app) and the effects have been monstrous. Conversely, the increasing number of celebrity lawsuits brought on by rumors spread via SNS attests to the relentless efficiency of such new media.
Internet connectivity in Korea is remarkably fast and widespread. When asked what they find the most inconvenient when traveling in another country, the overwhelming response of Koreans was the speed of the Internet and Wi-Fi. Constantly being connected and able to access information at record speeds has paved solid ground for social networking services to take root in Korean culture. What has been the Korean response to this phenomenon and how has it been reconstructed in Korean culture?
Cool Media and Detached Relationships
Hanseon knew about Sujin’s comings and goings in New Jersey through Facebook and he could also keep tabs on what kind of people she was meeting. From time to time he would drop a comment of some sort on her posts. But those occasions dwindled over time and Sujin’s posts about her daily life became less frequent as well.
A week passed with no news from Sujin. She was not answering his calls. She replied to texts long after he sent them, only to say that she was busy now and would contact him later. Hanseon began entering Sujin’s information in Google. Things like her name, national identification number, address, and phone number. It was almost too easy to find out who she was marrying and where. Her friends were sharing the news on Cyworld, Twitter, and Facebook. At first, he had only set out to collect information about the wedding, but the search engine dredged up her activities in America as well. She had gone out with a white man with the last name of McGuiness, a man who had been divorced once.
- Kim Young-ha, “Trip”