Naver joins Kakao to shut down online comment feature for entertainment news

By Park Sae-jin Posted : February 20, 2020, 15:16 Updated : February 20, 2020, 15:16

S[Courtesy of SM Entertainment]

SEOUL -- Naver, a top web portal service operator in South Korea, will finally pull the plug on its online comment feature for entertainment news, bowing to a social campaign against deep-rooted acts of cyberbullying that have led some celebrities to commit suicide.

Naver said on Wednesday that the shutdown of its online comment feature for the entertainment news section in March is aimed at sharing "the responsibility of providing an online comment space that could violate private lives and human rights of celebrities."

Naver, which exerts enormous influence in cyberspace, promised to apply stricter standards on expressions of disgust and defamation. The company kicked into action about four months after Kakao, the operator of the country's second web portal Daum, blocked its comment features for entertainment news.

Kakao's move followed the tragic death of singer-actress Choi Jin-ri, well known by her stage name Sulli.

Various forms of cyberbullying such as online hate comments against celebrities have long been a social problem. Dogged by hate comments and malicious rumors, Sulli committed suicide at her house in October last year. Singer Goo Ha-ra, better known as Hara, also committed suicide at her home in November.

Hara and Sulli had been close friends who shared sadness and loneliness. When Sulli died, Hara expressed extreme grief through social media posts but cyberbullies did not stop.

Male celebrities are not free from cyberattacks. BTS has declared war against hate comments and malicious rumors by taking legal action. Former project band Wanna One member Kang Daniel suspended activities in December last year due to depression and anxiety triggered by hate comments.

Experts believe cyberbullying is suspected of leading to the tragic suicide of Jonghyun, a member of popular K-pop band SHINee, who committed suicide in December 2017. The singer did not directly blame cyberbullies in his death note, but a mental health counselor who works for a global conglomerate pointed to cyberattacks.

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