"While malicious comments can drive a person to suicide, virtuous comments can help a person in despair overcome his or her adversity".
In the wake of a series of celebrity suicides stemming from vicious Web rumors, a campaign to increase responsible Web posting behavior is spreading throughout the nation.
The Coalition for Virtuous Replies set up in May seeks to raise public awareness about the danger of malicious Web comments and encourage the posting of good replies that respect and cheer up people.
Led by ChungAng University professor Min Byung-chul, who made his name through English education, the group has as members a host of celebrities such as lawyer Goh Seung-deok, actor Ahn Sung-ki
, entertainer Yoo Dong-geun
and broadcaster Kim Je-dong
Min said he was shocked in January after singer Uni took her own life due to vicious Web rumors, and decided to launch a campaign to encourage good posts online.
He also gave his students an assignment to visit the homepages of 10 celebrity victims of Web attacks, read the comments, and post their own messages to cheer up the celebrities. After seeing more than 5,700 virtuous replies posted on those sites, Min grew confident of the potential of good replies.
"Malicious replies hurt people like silent bullets", he said. "Though entertainers look strong on the surface, they are also ordinary people vulnerable to verbal attacks".
The coalition is now setting up "virtuous reply centers" at elementary, middle and high schools across the nation. It seeks to designate school computer rooms and homepages as centers and encourage students, their families and teachers to regularly post cheery messages. The first such center was established at a middle school on Jeju Island in June and 10 other schools have followed nationwide.
Entertainers participating in the campaign are also doing their share and urging the people's participation.
Actor Ahn said, "In a boxing match, when a boxer takes a series of jabs, he gets knocked out. Likewise, a number of seemingly trivial bad comments can devastate people. I hope netizens think twice when they post messages. They should consider each other as family members and not people they have no relations with".
Broadcaster Kim said, "While in the campaign, I realized those assaulted by malignant comments are shocked that they are defenseless and have no choice but to read those comments. They said they're scared and dispirited because those replies are put up anonymously".
Dokgo Yeong-jae, publicity director of the coalition, said, "This campaign will help children build character as well".