Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Money Matters: Korean Blogger Jailed

A financial blogger in South Korea was jailed last week for blogging on his country’s economic policies. The blogger, Park De-Sung, posted on Dec. 29 that officials had ordered banks to stop buying dollars. His post allegedly damaged South Korea’s foreign exchange market. If convicted, Park could face a hefty fine or up to 5 years in prison. Check out the AP story or TIME article for details.

Korea’s bold response suggests that it saw the blogger’s information as inaccurate but dangerously persuasive. Why was the blog persuasive? First, Park had a track record of being correct. He anticipated the failure of Lehman Brothers, for example. Also, Park used technical jargon to increase his credibility. Third, Park’s blog was widely read by players in the exchange markets.

The situation reveals an emerging challenge for PD practitioners. How should governments respond to blogs? In this case, media coverage seems to favor the blogger. Park’s arrest ignited a discussion of bloggers’ rights to free speech. TIME quoted a Korean law professor who said, “There’s definitely elements of authoritarianism in the nooks and crannies of our legal system.” Should Korea have ignored the blogger?

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