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Cablegate: User Created Content (Ucc) - the Next Big

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUL #0604/01 0610833
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020833Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3136
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2108
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2223
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUALSFJ/COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA AB JA
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA J2 SEOUL KOR
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA J5 SEOUL KOR
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA SCJS SEOUL KOR
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//OSD/ISA/EAP//

UNCLAS SEOUL 000604

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KS
SUBJECT: USER CREATED CONTENT (UCC) - THE NEXT BIG
POLITICAL TOOL?

1. Summary. User-created content (UCC), digital information
produced and posted by Internet users, is poised to play a
major role in Korea's upcoming presidential election.
Candidates are jockeying for prime Internet channels from
which to project carefully crafted images to mass audiences,
and are cultivating full-time media personas to guard against
well-publicized missteps. That election players are taking
UCC seriously this election is evidenced by the struggle of
law enforcement and regulatory agencies to define the
parameters of UCC use in campaigns. End Summary.

2. Online digital information created by Internet users,
dubbed user-created content (UCC), is expected to factor
heavily in Korea's upcoming presidential elections.
Widespread availability and use of digital equipment,
combined with increasing reliance on Internet-based sources
for news, has spawned a new "Internet populism." Many of
Korea's estimated 33.58 million Internet users increasingly
turn to Internet TV - available on phones, TVs, subways and
computers - for mainstream news. The gap between average TV
and Internet use per day (2 hours, 12 minutes for TV; 1 hour,
44 minutes for Internet) is narrowing, and Korean viewership
of primetime news is declining.

3. Companies like Pandora TV, the most popular
video-streaming UCC site in Korea, are jockeying for pieces
of the election's virtual real estate. Dubbed Korea's
YouTube, Pandora TV recently auctioned Internet video
channels to candidates anxious to launch virtual campaigns in
the run-up to the 2007 elections. Presidential candidate
Chung Dong-young of the ruling Uri party beat out four other
candidates to land exclusive rights to the much-coveted
channel 2007. The Blue House took 1219 (the date of the
election) in 2006 so no candidate could have this channel.
The portal's large audience - two million paying subscribers
and approximately 3.3 million daily viewers - and ability to
track what subscribers watch by age, gender, and region,
render it a fertile platform for next-generation campaigning.

4. Presidential candidates, hoping to capitalize on UCC's
popularity, are launching their own video channels and hiring
web consultants to project desirable images. Richard Hwang,
responsible for the portal's political content, told poloff
all 14 presidential hopefuls have approached Pandora TV about
using its technology as a campaign tool. In addition, each
of the GNP's "Big Three" presidential hopefuls - Lee
Myung-bak, Park Geun-hye, and Sohn Hak-kyu - has posted UCC
clips on their personal homepage. Park Gyun-hye's homepage,
for example, features a graceful video clip of her playing
piano entitled "Piano Playing Princess Geun-hye."

5. Because of the UCC's broad audience and accessibility,
postings can also damage a candidate's chances. "All it takes
is one video to create political momentum - good or bad,"
Pandora TV's CFO Mike Hong told poloff. Offhand comments or
acts caught by netizens with cell phones and a small degree
of technological savvy can balloon into well-publicized
gaffes with the potential to derail the best-planned
campaign. In the runup to the 2004 National Assembly, then
Uri Party chairman Chung Dong-young suffered a serious
set-back that still affects him today when his disparaging
remark about senior citizens was caught in digital form and
posted online by a netizen. The widely-viewed blunder
created a public uproar and led to Chung's resignation.

6. With UCC-based campaigning emerging as a key variable in
the upcoming election, regulatory and law enforcement
agencies are struggling to define the parameters of
acceptable UCC use. The National Election Commission's
vacillating UCC guidelines reflect the difficulty in
regulating this new, largely unfettered media, and serve as
tacit acknowledgement of the UCC's potential power this
election year. The Commission announced broad guidelines
prohibiting voters from creating election-related UCC before
the official campaign period - which begins 23 days before
the December 19 election - and reversed course three weeks
later following a barrage of criticism from Internet users
concerned that too much regulation could drive away younger
voters.

7. The Seoul Central Prosecutors' Office announced on
February 21 plans to establish a "UCC Monitoring Office" and
"Digital Investigation Team," consisting of 20 prosecutors
and investigators, to police online campaign abuses. The
Korean National Police Agency already monitors illicit UCC
campaign activities through its Cyber Counter-Terrorism
Center.

Comment
-------

8. In 2002, the presidential elections were affected by
instant messaging and the internet, and 2007 will likely see
UCC take a prominent position in the campaign. Just 20 years
after democratization, Korea now is at the cutting edge of
democracy, developing new ways for more people to participate
in the political process.
VERSHBOW

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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