Tablo Uses the Power of Mainstream Media against Social Media Bullying.


 On the most recent broadcast of MBC’s ‘Tablo goes to Stanford -1’, Tablo revealed all the rumor about his falsifying graduation documents from Stanford University. (MBC is one of three major national South Korean television an radio networks.)

 Tablo (the real name is Daniel Armand Lee) is best known as the leader of the South Korean hip-hop group ‘Epik High’. His music work incorporated various musical styles ranging from hip-hop to electronic as well as gangsters. 

He becomes more famous leading social media trend in the K-pop industry. After five studio albums, he surpried everyone with his decision to break from a major record label and go independent via online.

Epik High recently launched their own bilingual Website, where fans can watch their videos and live performances, read members’ blogsan buy their albums online. The decision to deviate from established distribution services stemmed from Tablo’s desire to make his music more affoardable to fans.

Not only using his main Website, but Tablo is also using numerous social media tools (e.g. Cyworld, Twitter, YouTube and blogs) to reach out more international fans. As a result, his first online special album ‘Epilogue’ reached the number one spot on the iTunes hip-hop album chart on Marth 9th 2010. CNN reported him as a piorneer of the online music industry.

However, after being accused of falsifying graduation documents last June, Tablo’s career began to collapse. People formed an ‘anti-cafe’ site named ‘We Request the Truth From Tablo’, saying that Tablo has taken some advantages in the Korean music industry with his false Standford MA degree.  

Although Tablo had already posted his Stanford documents on his blog and Cyworld, the members of the cafe turned a blind eye and commented. Even Ashton Kutcher (Tablo’s Twitter friend) and Tom Black (Stanford Registrar) defended Tablo via Twitter, nothing was enough to change anti-fans minds. Thus, Tablo finally went to the mainstream media to clear his name.  (In Korean culture, people tend to more believe what mainstream media says than what social media does.)  

Last week, the Stanford Daily from Stanford University has recently announced a report about MBC’s ‘Tablo Goes to Stanford -1’ and showed their support for Tablo, saying “it’s true that Tablo is a Stanford University graduate accoding to our documents” (see the article). They also revealed Tablo’s photo during his days ar Stanford in his year of graduation. Furthermore, Stanford Registrar, Tom Black expressed:”It is all just rumors and innuendo. It is not truth they are after. It is just to ruin his life.”

Tablo case is closely associated with Korea’s deep-rooted culture of judging someone by their educational background. It appears Tablo mentioned Stanford quite frequently whenever he appeared in media, and that may have made some Internet users jealous.

With the airing of the MBC special, hopefully Tablo will be able to clear his name and finally be able to put this out-of-proportion online rumor behind him.

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South Korea blocks access to North Korea Twitter page


Two weeks ago, North Korea began to spread its online propaganda campaign by starting a Twitter account. Ten communistic messages have been posted so far under the name “uriminzok”, which means “our people” in Korean.  Most of the messages linked to anti-South Korea and anti-US statements on the official website of the North Korean assembly for propaganda regime. 

A screenshot of the first North Korean Twitter page.

Then, the South Korean government has asked domestic Internet service providers (KT, Hanaro, etc.) to block Korean access to this Twitter account due to national security. The decision was made Tuesday to stem the rapid increase of subscriptions by South Koreans.

Last month, North Korea created its own YouTube channel, uploading video clips that praises Kim Jong-il and defends itself against allegations over the sinking of a battleship near the inter-Korean maritime border which happened in July. Considering these incidents, we assume that the North Korean government – one of the most reclusive countries in the world – is trying to step up its propaganda works by using social media.
For now, a warning page pops up when an attempting to access A similar page shows up if one tries to enter Web pages showing North Korea‘s propaganda material. The block regards as a confirmation that South Korean government considers this Twitter page as being directly related to the Kim Jong-il regime.

Yesterday, the South Korean government announced that its citizens cannot access this Twitter page unless this webpage gain government clearance. Not only that, it may be considered illegal to communicate with the North Korean Twitter account (e.g. following, retweeting).

Nevertheless, according to Joong-ang Daily, the number of followers is quickly increasing from all over the world and has surpassed more than 1,400 as it draws increasing global media attention. Koreans, who study or live abroad like me, can easily access North Korean websites filled with propaganda messages, which could be the serious national security issue in the future.  Thus, considering the massive influence of Twitter among young people, the South Korean government should try harder to regulate this uncontrollable phenomenon.

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Cyworld – the First Social Networking Website in the World


Do you know what the first social networking website in the world is? Myspace? Facebook? No, the correct answer is Cyworld. Today, I’d like to talk about this pan-Asian social media website started from South Korea. 

(A screenshot of my mini homepage from Cyworld)

There is an unprecedented phenomenon, that has affected consumer trends on the Web in recent years in South Korea. When people seemed to be tired with tedious and simple blogs, five KAIST(Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) students established and Internet community venture  in 1998, for the first time in the world. 

They created a new blog named “Cyworld” which means the cyber world where people can have good relationships. Then, SK Communication took over the venture with the brand of Cyworld in 2004. Cyworld has achieved profoundly qualitative and quantitative growth in Korea, driven by the success of unique options (mini-homepages), and there are now incredibly more than 21 million subscribers out of 30 million Internet users in South Korea.

To explain the characteristics of Cyworld, it is necessary to mention Korean web-users’ behaviours first. They want private spaces involved in unique communities, no payment for services but fast Internet speed with their own devices such as PDAs, mobiles and laptops.

Therefore, Cyworld has been developed for Internet users supporting internally efficient technologies and specialized contents as well as external digital cameras, Internet cafes with easy access and mobile phone service to upload photos and allow real-time communication.

The most popular service of Cyworld is the mini-homepage, the virtual home with customized wallpapers, furniture, photos, BGM, etc., which acts as a user’s real home. People can express their personal stories via unique personalization options such as message boards, photo galleries, and personal biographies. This enabled Cyworld users to not only manage their profile, but also  their identity, the way they want others to view them.

For many years, Cyworld has grown beyond the social networking website and has evolve into a profitable tool that allows companies to reach out to consumers, as well as providing a desirable space that enables celebrities to reach out to fans. Many Korean celebrities have connected with their fans by setting up a mini homepage and posting their personal stories. Since Cyworld began publishing the number of hits and followers of users’ mini- homepages,  it has drawn more webusers who want to be famous and influential.

In 2007, Cyworld decided to expand its website beyond South Korea and took its first step into the USA, China, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Vietnam and Thailand. Considering the growing popularity of Korean culture and the growing number of IT devices in East/Southeast Asia, Cyworld will continue to expand.       

You can see my cyworld mini homepage and blog here : www.cyworld.pure_veggie (mini homepage)  www.cyworld.pureveggie (blog)

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