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Tougher punishment for hate comments sought after deaths of Goo Hara, Sulli

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A new online petition has been filed in South Korea calling for tougher punishment against defamation and hate comments after the deaths of former Kara member Goo Hara and former f(x) member Sulli.

(Clockwise from top left) Goo Hara, her last post on Instagram and photo with Sulli (Instagram)

(Clockwise from top left) Goo Hara, her last post on Instagram and photo with Sulli (Instagram)

Goo Hara, 28, was found dead at her home in Cheongdam, Gangnam, Seoul at around 6 p.m. on Nov. 24, just 42 days after Sulli was found dead at her home in Seongnam City last Oct. 14. A day before her death, Goo Hara posted a photo on Instagram with the caption, “Good night.”

The petition was filed on Nov. 24 on the official website of Korean President Moon Jae-in, which stated that up to now, many people including celebrities have suffered from cyber crimes and suicide because they could not overcome the hate comments, spreading of false information and harassment. It has gained 20,377 signatures as of writing.

Under Korea’s Criminal Act, defamation, wherein “a person who defames another by publicly alleging facts shall be punished by imprisonment or imprisonment without prison labor for not more than two years or by a fine not exceeding five million won,” or P215,000.

“A person who defames another by publicly alleging false facts shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than five years, suspension of qualifications for not more than ten years, or a fine not exceeding ten million won [P430,000],” the law added.

Celebrities often sue people for hate comments but the petition pointed out that a fine is usually meted out and perpetrators can be free without any fine. It added that some people even boast that they have sued because they are no longer afraid of the same punishment.

Goo Hara and Sulli were close friends. After Sulli’s death, Goo Hara paid tribute to her on Oct. 14 by posting photos of them together on Instagram and writing, “Jin-ri [Sulli’s true name] can do what whatever she wants in that world.”

A relative of Goo Hara said the star “was so tired because many difficult things happened continuously. She even did not have a management company in Korea. She mostly worked in Japan and recently lived in Korea,” reported JTBC Plus and Ilgan Sports.

Korean netizens are blaming Goo Hara’s former boyfriend as the one who caused her so much stress.

Last May, Goo Hara made a suicide attempt that landed her in the hospital. She was found unconscious at her home. Before the incident, she posted “Goodbye’ on Instagram and her manager went to her home after she failed to answer calls. Smoke was detected in her home.

“I am sorry for causing concerns and a commotion. In terms of health, I am recovering … I had been in agony over a number of overlapping issues. But from now on, I will steel my heart and try to show up healthy,” she said after the incident, according to Yonhap News.

In September last year, she made headlines when her former boyfriend sued her for allegedly harming him but the case was suspended.

Goo Hara said that he tried to release their sex tape and filed a case against him for blackmail, illegal filming of video and assault.

Last August, he got a suspended sentence for assault, blackmail, intimidation and property damage but he was acquitted of the charges related to the sex tape.

Last February, her contract with agency Content Y was not renewed and then netizens criticized her for allegedly getting eyelid surgery.

After Sulli’s death, Korean pop culture expert Seo Byeong-gi said Korea’s online comment culture should change as these “are very harmful because if you do something bad, just a little bad, people will drive you crazy with comments.”

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