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Socialympics' Turn Ugly

Posted: Aug 03, 2012

Outraged Korean netizens are using social media to vent their anger about the Olympic Games, dubbed the “Socialympics,” or social media Olympics.

Korean epee fencer Shin A-lam, 25, lost in the semifinals to Germany’s Britta Heidemann, 29, due to a timekeeper’s mistake, July 31.

Amidst worldwide claims that Austrian referee, Barbara Csar, failed to point out some faults in Heidemann’s play, such as maintaining the correct distance and starting before the clock began ticking, Korean netizens searched online to find out more about the referee and Shin’s opponent.

Csar and Heidemann were easily located on Facebook, and soon their walls were full of messages rebuking them for what happened. When their accounts were blocked from public view, netizens started to write on the wall of Heidemann’s boyfriend, and revealed contact information online.

Many, however, are concerned that this will cause emotional strife between Korea and Germany, including German media such as Der Spiegel, a weekly magazine that wrote an article titled “Referee Csar Insulted on the Internet.”

Another German newspaper, Die Welt, said Csar was accused of being a racist and had her e-mail and phone number published online.

“We understand those people,” said Heidemann, according to Die Welt. “Of course we can sue those people and the situation may lead so, but I have no intention of doing that. I hope the conflict will end well.”

Hwang Sang-min, psychology professor at Yonsei University, said such activities start when people believe something is unjustly done and feel they have to do something.

“It is a big problem, however, if the netizens fail to acknowledge they are infringing on human rights when revealing contact information,” said Hwang.

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