Date of this Version
August 1, 2008 in The China Beat http://www.thechinabeat.org/
On July 31st, SBS, a major South Korean broadcast network, aired a short clipshowing details of the carefully guarded rehearsals for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (the video clip has now been removed from all major news and video sites). As the news (and the clip) spread on the web, Chinese and Korean news, portal sites, and users on blogs and message boards expressed, to put it mildly, consternation. On popular Chinese portals like sina.com and 163.com, polls show that a large percentage of the respondents support revoking the offending station’s broadcasting privileges, or investigating who bore responsibility for the leak and levying a heavy fine on the station (presumably, the other two major South Korean networks covering the Olympics this summer, MBC and KBS, would be unaffected by such sanctions).
Korean reactions on blogs and comments that I have seen range from dismay, embarrassment, and strong (and often vicious, as par the course in online discourses) condemnation of SBS, to defensiveness and indifference (basically, 不关心), and even to excitement at the promise of the beauty of the opening ceremony captured by the footage. In what is one of the most tech-savvy societies in the world, South Korea’s wired citizens, or “netizens,” can be found at the cutting edge of any controversy, and the SBS incident is no exception. Furthermore, Korean users are just as, if not more mindful of developments on Chinese-language sites than internet users in predominantly English-speaking countries like the U.S., and true to form, are following this issue very closely on both international and home fronts, though for how intensely and for how long remains unclear at this point in time.