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A singer`s death and online mudslinging

Posted February. 13, 2013 05:13,   


“It’s true that I have cancer.” How incredibly stressful for someone who must prove that he or she is truly sick. A case in point is the late Lim Yoon-taek, the leader of the music group Ulala Session who died at age 33 on Sunday. He won the 2011 edition of “Superstar K,” a reality TV singing competition but drew more attention after saying he had stage four stomach cancer. Certain Internet users criticized him by asking if he was really sick, if he was still alive, and that he said he was dying to gain more popularity. Eventually, he released his medical diagnosis in June last year and proved the skeptics wrong with his death.

Lim never gave up hope while fighting cancer. He held a concert, released an album, and gave lectures against school violence. Ra Seon-yeong, Lim’s doctor and a medical professor at Yonsei University, applauded the singer, saying, “He’s fighting cancer much better than his peers probably because of his positive attitude and spirit of challenge.” Lim overcame physical and mental suffering from cancer treatment with a sense of responsibility as a group leader and affection for his colleagues. Malevolent Internet users attacked him, however, saying, “How can a cancer patient laugh and jump?” and “He’ll hold a news conference in a year that his cancer has been miraculously cured.”

The singer did not let the vicious posts bother him. When his father collected the IP addresses of those who blasted him online to prosecute them, he said, “Many of them are youths and we shouldn’t block their future.” Instead, he wrote on Twitter, “I’ll send concert tickets to you out there who write a lot of bad things about me. Please come see me in the concert. If you still don’t like me, then there’s nothing I can do, but please remember that I`m doing my best.” Lim was considerate enough to say on a TV show, “They might’ve misunderstood me.” He, however, must have been greatly hurt.

Celebrities have long been targets of vicious Web rumors and criticism. The suicides of many celebrities including Yuni (singer), Jang Chae-won (transgender actress), Ahn Jae-hwan (actor) and Choi Jin-sil (actress) were partially caused by stress from online attacks on them. Rapper Tablo finally proved that he graduated from Stanford University in the U.S. after a protracted battle with hostile Internet users who claimed that he forged his degree, including winning a defamation suit. Most celebrities, however, deal with such criticism alone. Even after Lim died, certain Internet users kept posting malicious threads. Writer Lee Oi-soo expressed his condolences after Lim’s death, saying, “Though he had a short life, he lived a more sincere, passionate and great life than anyone else. Hopefully, nobody writes a negative posting about him today.” Those who write malicious postings should reflect on themselves and learn from Lim’s love and passion. May he rest in peace.

Editorial Writer Shin Yeon-su (ysshin@donga.com)