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5 July 2004
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Korea Life Blog - Letter to the Editor

I wrote up a quick letter which I will send to the two English newspapers in Korea: The Korea Herald and the Korea Times. I've never written to a newspaper before and I didn't bother to read the guidelines so I'm not sure if it'll get published or not. I'll post it here for my American readers:

Two years ago I started a website about living and teaching in Korea. I called it Korea Life Blog. I began by serializing the story of my first experience on the island of Geoje-do. Later I started writing about everyday life in Korea. The site soon grew in content and popularity both among foreigners and Koreans. Before I knew it, I was averaging 1000 hits per day. So many people left comments and e-mails of appreciation, encouraging me to continue. For some, my site was a source of comfort. They too were living and teaching in Korea. Others had been here in the past and were looking for a way to keep in touch. Still others were considering their first trip and used my site as a source of information. Soon, curious as to how foreigners perceive their country, Koreans began stopping by too. Especially interested were gyopos, Koreans born and growing up overseas. Most of them had never been here. They heartfully thanked me for bringing their homeland alive through pictures and commentary. Finally, for some readers there was no connection at all. They stumbled across my site accidentally and found themselves suddenly immerged for the first time in a website about Korea.

All this splendor began to fade last week. Without warning or explanation, the Korean government suddenly blocked access to my website. Most people, including me, didn’t know what happened; the site simply failed to load. Only later did I find the reason why: some barbaric foreigners posted the footage of the Kim Sun Il beheading on their own websites. Since then, access to websites by all foreigners using blog services have systematically been cut off, innocent sites like my own included. In other words censorship is running rampant.

Though I don't believe it was right to post that gruesome footage, I don't believe it is right for innocent websites to be blocked either. That's plain unjustified censorship. What's more alarming is the majority of people don't even know this is happening. With this letter I hope to raise awareness and encourage people to take appropriate action. Only you can stop censorship. Only you can bring Korea Life Blog back to the people. Please take some time and write the Ministry of Information and Communication today.

I ended with the contact information of the office. The letter is probably too long to print, but hopefully it will atleast get the attention of the editor for some possible coverage of what's going on. There's been pretty much nothing about it in the news here.


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