SEOUL (AFP) — South Korean police have rounded up more than 2,000 people for spreading malicious rumours on the Internet during a month-long crackdown sparked by an actress's suicide, officials said Monday.
The National Police Agency said 11 people have been formally arrested and detained for serious legal breaches and that prosecutors would be asked to charge another 2,019 with various offences.
Actress Choi Jin-Sil hanged herself last month. She was said to have been upset by Internet rumours that she lent a huge sum to actor Ahn Jae-Hwan, who had earlier killed himself because of debt pressures.
"After the top entertainer's suicide, there was a social consensus that those who spread false rumours online be sternly punished," Oh Se-Chan, a chief investigator at the agency's cyber-terror prevention centre, told AFP.
"The crackdown will continue in order to secure a cleaner and sounder environment on the Internet."
Some 59 percent of the 2,030 people were accused of libel or breaching laws on contempt, 23 percent of blackmail and 18 percent of cyber-stalking, the agency said.
In one case, a man rejected for a bank loan posted defamatory comments about the bank manager, the JoongAng Daily reported. Another man was detained after he posted in his blog that his ex-girlfriend had had a number of abortions.
Choi's death followed the suicide last year of two South Korean celebrities who came under cyber-attack on their own websites.
In response, the government in Seoul passed a law to curb the country's notorious cyber-bullying by preventing Internet users from hiding behind fake IDs when they post entries at major portals and news websites.
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