South Korean MPs may set up committee to stamp out cyber violence

SEOUL • The death of actress-singer Sulli has been linked to spiteful comments which the 25-year-old received from netizens.

Now, the call to stamp out such destructive behaviour has received a boost, with South Korean MPs reportedly open to the idea of setting up a committee to mull over the introduction of tougher, and even new, regulations.

The committee is expected to source for proposals from people in the entertainment industry and fans and artists themselves.

The Korea Entertainment Management Association has also issued a statement of its intention to wipe out "cyber violence".

"Nothing will be forgiven and strong action will be taken," it said.

While this tough stand from the association has drawn support from netizens, some said it should have done this after Shinee member Jonghyun committed suicide in 2017.

Sulli, who was found dead on Monday, took a break from girl group f(x) in 2014 after she was dogged by negative talk and rumours.

She was said to have asked her management agency to do more to curb such activities, but it reportedly hit a wall when it found out that the naysayers were using untraceable social media accounts.

According to allkpop portal, Sulli attended a film society event recently and said at a discussion: "I'm the type of person who trusts other people easily. But these days, the world is a place where it's difficult to trust anyone."

Two other members of popular girl bands - Mina from Twice and Momoland's Yeonwoo - have also made the news recently over their battles with anxiety disorders.

Meanwhile, as fans await the results of an autopsy on Sulli, her agency made arrangements for them to pay their respects in a funeral hall in Yonsei on Tuesday and yesterday.

Her family has decided on a private funeral, with the details, including location, kept secret.

As fans - who have called on the government to mandate that netizens use their real names online - grieve over Sulli's death, more artists have announced that they are temporarily shelving their activities.

For Luna, Sulli's bandmate in f(x), the tragic news has proven too overwhelming, with her dropping out of a weekend performance of musical Mama Mia!.

A spokesman has attributed this to "health issues". It is not known for now if she will return to her Mama Mia! role later.

But for one artist, there is reason to be optimistic in the fight against detractors.

The lawyers of actress Song Hye-kyo previously said they were going after the trouble-makers. Now, news has surfaced that the Bundang Police Station has referred two netizens to the prosecution over defamation of her character and vicious comments.

In July, her agency said it was going after 15 netizens, but its efforts were thwarted after 13 of them closed their accounts and went under the radar.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2019, with the headline 'South Korean MPs may set up committee to stamp out cyber violence'. Print Edition | Subscribe