Youth being locked up in KakaoTalk prison

Mar 22, 2021, 08:37 am

print page small font big font

facebook share

tweet share

AsiaToday reporters Lim Yoo-jin & Kim Hyun-goo & Woo Sung-min 

A 16-year-old girl attending a middle school in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, feels like she’s suffocating when she receives notifications for new messages. After falling out with three of her classmates last year, she was forcibly invited to the so-called KakaoTalk prison, where she received offensive, insulting, and bullying messages from scores of people. She had to endure cyberbullying for several months as every time she left the chatroom, she was repeatedly invited to the room.

Eventually, her face was digitally added to a photo of a naked body and the photo was spread online. Several posts abusing her were uploaded on social media. “I was struggling with depression. I felt so bad that I even thought of committing suicided,” she said. 

She transferred to a new school, but it was difficult to make new friends because groundless rumors have been already spread online. “Everyone knew the fact that I was being bullied. Making friends is so difficult and it is very frustrating,” she said. Currently, she is receiving psychiatric treatment once a week.

◇ Cyberbullying prevention program should be included in regular curriculum, experts say

Cyberbullying, a form of harassment in digital communication mediums such as text messages, internet forums, chatrooms, and social media, are on the rise especially among the so-called MZ generation – those born between the 1980s and the early 2000s as a combination of millennials and Generation Z – as technology becomes more central to young people’s lives.

Experts say it is urgent to prepare preventive measures against online violence as cyberbullying becomes more sophisticated and cleverer due to the spread of smartphones and the use of social account. “Cyberbullying is violence against the weak, and a social problem mentally devastates both victims and perpetrators,” said Jeon Myung-soo, a professor at Korea University. 

“Cyber violence has a great impact on because digital information can be quickly spread to and shared by unspecified individuals,” said Shin Na-min, a professor at Dongguk University. “Besides, digital materials can be left as a permanent record, taking victims’ right to be forgotten.”

Experts say it is important for people to recognize that cyberbullying and online harassment are obviously violence. “The level of defamation is harsher online, and students need to learn such characteristics. We need to teach them that victims are deeply wounded, and that aiding and abetting are bullying behavior,” Shin said. 

Some point out that online efforts are needed to strictly respond and monitor cyberbullying. “As former US President Donald Trump has been kicked off of Twitter for the risk of inciting violence, messenger platform providers need to make an ethical effort to suspend accounts with signs of cyberbullying,” Shin said. 

Copyright by Asiatoday