Internet portal temporarily bans web comments on entertainment news to stem defamation

SEOUL-- Daum, South Korea's second-largest internet portal, will temporarily close down comment fields on its entertainment news site in a drastic move designed to crack down on online expressions of defamation and hatred, the portal's operator said Friday.

Yeo Min-soo and Joh Su-yong, co-chief executives of Kakao Corp., which has Daum under its wing, said the decision to temporarily ban web comments on entertainment news came after a long debate with company officials.

"Web comments were originally aimed at serving as a healthy place of public debate, but we must admit their side effects," Yeo told reporters.

"There are many opinions that the level of defamation in comment fields on entertainment news site is undermining the health of public debate," Yeo said.

Daum will strengthen its monitoring of instant and anonymous web comments that are libelous or contain threats, Yeo said.

Kakao, the operator of South Korea's dominant mobile messaging app KakaoTalk, will also close down comments fields on its entertainment news site by the end of this month, Yeo said.

Yeo implicitly admitted that the decision came after the recent death of pop star and actress Sulli.

The 25-year-old K-pop star, whose legal name was Choi Jin-ri, was found dead at her residence in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on Oct. 14.

Her death has rekindled public alarm over internet bullying of celebrities and of people in general.

An online petition was lodged on Monday on the official website of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, calling for the enactment of a "Choi Jin-ri law" requiring people to leave online comments under their legal names and identities.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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