The ‘BBK scandal’ in the 2007 presidential election of South Korea

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When YouTube meets local politics:The ‘BBK scandal’ in the 2007 presidential election of South Korea
Yeon-Ok Lee
Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
Han Woo Park
YeungNam University, South Korea
AoIR annual conference
16-18 Oct 2008, Copenhagen
Social Network Sites in National Context

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  • The ‘BBK scandal’ in the 2007 presidential election of South Korea

    1. 1. When YouTube meets local politics: The ‘BBK scandal’ in the 2007 presidential election of South Korea Yeon-Ok Lee Royal Holloway, University of London, UK Han Woo Park YeungNam University, South Korea AoIR annual conference 16-18 Oct 2008, Copenhagen Social Network Sites in National Context
    2. 2. Background (1) <ul><li>“ Korea is a great laboratory of the digital age.” (Eric Schmidt, CEO Google, Seoul Digital Forum, 30 May 2007) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The country’s impressive level of technological uptake </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unique evolution of online culture in Korean cyberspace </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Naver > Google, Yahoo </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>NateOn > MSN messenger </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cyworld > MySpace, Facebook </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pandora > YouTube </li></ul></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Background (2) <ul><li>A liberal underdog Roh Moo-Hyun won the 2002 presidential election by 2.3% of the votes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A grassroots campaign force manifested through Nosamo , an Internet-based voluntary association of Roh’s supporters </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The front-runner Lee of the conservative GNP maintained a wide margin in opinion polls throughout the entire election period in 2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The media’s prediction in the early months of 2007 was that user-created content (UCC) would be the ‘next big thing’ </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. The ‘BBK scandal’ <ul><li>A few days before the election, a video clip released that contradicted Lee’s earlier statements denying any connection with BBK (i.e. a financial firm found to be a scam) and those of state prosecutors clearing him of any involvement. </li></ul><ul><li>current electoral regulations prevent the distribution of such a video clip on the Internet in the 180 days prior to the election. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Article 93 of the Public Official Election Act <ul><li>According to the article, from 180 days before the election day to the election day, no one shall distribute or post materials containing support for or opposition to a political party or candidate, or materials showing the name of a political party or candidate with the intention of influencing the election. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of such materials are articulated as “an advertisement, letter of greeting, poster, photograph, document, drawing, printed matter, recording, tape, video tape, or the like”. </li></ul><ul><li>The inspection bodies and enforcing authorities applied this article to blog posts and user comments made on news sites or Web portals. </li></ul>
    6. 6. The ‘BBK scandal’
    7. 7. Data collection <ul><li>Hyperlink analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>URLs of the Web pages that either send a hyperlink to the YouTube clip or quote its address in-text (every three days) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interaction network analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User comments and responses (436 items from 271 unique IDs) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Valued matrix and binary matrix </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Semantic network analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A content and discourse analysis of the comments (420 items after data cleaning) </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Findings (1) <ul><li>Targeted audience were Korean voters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The original contributor’s explanation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No subtitle </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The appropriation of the global social networking space for domestic political issues to circumvent the electoral law </li></ul>
    9. 9. YouTube users’ reaction to the clip 108 532 927,962 18 Dec 107 522 907,305 17 Dec 99 497 838,428 14 Dec 80 385 651,381 11 Dec Favorite Comments View
    10. 10. Findings (2): Power law of contribution
    11. 11. Attitudes towards Lee MB 433 3 158 272 Sum 109 3 27 79 Others 61 0 15 46 Neutral 245 0 111 134 Against 18 0 5 13 For Sum Others Korean English
    12. 12. Examples <ul><li>9 out of 13 comments by JapanEmpire explicitly supportive of Lee </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ GNP candidate and former Seoul mayor Lee Myung-bak is a wealthy, experienced, and sincere Christian, I'm sure he doesn't lie like others. Also, he will be the second best president after Park Chung-hee of the ROK.Korea needs a great  president with strong leadership who will really improve the economy and possibly eliminate corruption.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Seebuddy9 left 12 comments containing consistent messages against (and addressed to) the then candidate Lee </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Hey Mr. Lee! You are not qualified as Korean president. You know why? Korean people saw your bottom of immorality. What about your criminal record in Korean police too. Now, Korean people fighting corruption against Mr. Lee and grand national party. The president of Korea should required transparency with strong accountability. That is reason you are not qualified. Withdraw your candidacy immediately!” </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Attitudes towards Korea 433 3 158 272 Sum 145 3 36 106 Others 158 0 59 99 Neutral 107 0 48 59 Against 23 0 15 8 For Sum Others Korean English
    14. 14. Examples <ul><li>6 out of 9 comments by Danfrphils  were of anti-Korean nature </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Korean citizens must be the dumbest in the world. It's a sad statement that using this kind of untruthful mud slinging politics might actually work again in Korea. It worked 5 years ago. I hope we don't stoop to that level in the US.” </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Interactional network through the comment facility – Lee MB
    16. 16. Interactional network through the comment facility - Korea
    17. 17. CONCOR diagram (Eng)
    18. 18. Word groups (Eng)
    19. 19. Findings (3) <ul><li>The diffusion of information and the political discussion further to the clip stayed within the Korean cyberspace bounded by the invisible line of language </li></ul><ul><ul><li>cf. Irrelevant (and sometimes racially motivated) comment under the clip itself </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Further discussion <ul><li>Not exactly a “UCC election” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clip released from the rival party </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unauthorised campaign efforts versus exercise of the right to free expression (of political opinions) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Context dependency of online social networking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Legal framework </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Market dynamics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Soft institutions’ such as collective-oriented value system </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A case of non-technological contextual factors hindering the development of Internet culture? </li></ul>
    21. 21. <ul><li>Yeon-Ok Lee </li></ul><ul><li>PhD Researcher </li></ul><ul><li>New Political Communication Unit </li></ul><ul><li>Dept of Politics & International Relations </li></ul><ul><li>Royal Holloway, University of London </li></ul><ul><li>Email: yenn.lee@rhul.ac.uk </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.yawningtree.net </li></ul><ul><li>Han Woo Park, PhD </li></ul><ul><li>Assistant Professor </li></ul><ul><li>Dept of Communication & Information </li></ul><ul><li>YeungNam University, South Korea </li></ul><ul><li>Email: hanpark@ynu.ac.kr </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.hanpark.net </li></ul><ul><li>* Many thanks to the members of the New Media & Society Lab at YeungNam University for their help during data collection. </li></ul>
    22. 22. Thank You !

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