Internet censorship has appeared ever since the increment of obscene websites and sexually explicit data on the World Wide Web (www). In Korea, this internet censorship, or in the layman’s term ban, is increasing and less citizens are now given the freedom to access sites from foreign servers. These censorships are not ‘bans’ in general but rather a type of block made by the governments in order to restrict minors from accessing sites which are inappropriate.
Of the most famous type of censorship available in both North and South Korea, IP address (Internet protocol address) blockage is the most used method. IP address blockage includes age verification which requires domestic citizens to verify age via the input of their identification number and foreign citizens to fax their passports for verification. This censorship is enforced with the appearance of a webpage which displays the words: “This page is restricted by the government”, once a restricted page is clicked.
The censorship in North Korea is heavier than its neighbour, South Korea. The censorship status in North Korea only grants a few thousand of its citizens (which is an approximate of 4% of the total population) internet access. These few thousands, though granted with internet access, is still under heavy censorship with a figure of around 300 major website based search words being blocked as stated in the JoongAng Daily. In South Korea, citizens are freer in accessing the internet but the restrictions are still similar, with 222 foreign websites being blocked in 2007 for containing sexually explicit contents and obscene photos.
The strict laws and regulations placed by the Korean government are assisted with the help of IP tracking and the age verification system implemented. This has come to a point in where political interest has even spilled into the internet censorship and pro-North Korean websites are blocked by the South Korean Government. Though most online blogs and political writers speculate that the South Korean Government are hiding their attempt to cover up their fragile nature (as quoted from 1stopkorea and EFF), nothing concrete has been proven so far as to the conclusion made concerning the censorship.
As quoted by a renowned philosopher, in every good there is an evil, so does the wise saying apply for the case of Korean’s internet censorship. Though intended for good, the internet censorship placed by the Korean Government has already caused a serious inconvenience in the lives of the citizens, especially to those whose work and studies rely heavily on internet.
Simple words such as ‘wristwatch’ and ‘specialist’ are censored for containing spellings of obscene words such as ‘twat’ and drug names such as ‘cialis’. This has caused internet search engines to be slightly ineffective due to the censorship placed. Communities such as the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) have already placed increase protest in such censorship and have even encouraged internet users to contact the ministries involved by giving the ministry’s numbers out.