KOREA: 215 foreign porno web sites to be blocked

Intended to protect teenagers from obscene video clips, the block excludes websites in English and Japanese

Korea Times
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

By Kim Tae-gyu

Beginning in June, Korean Internet service providers plan to block 215 foreign based Korean pornography Web sites to protect teenagers from obscene video clips.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Tuesday said the blocked sites will be those in Korean, which have been hosted oversea.

"We asked major fixed-line telecom carriers last week to cut access to 215 adult sites and they agreed to do so soon," said Suh Byung-jo, director general at the ministry. "The ban is expected to be in place by June because broadband operators will need to install the proper infrastructure which could take up to a month."

The measure was adopted after several incidents last month involving major Internet portal sites Yahoo Korea, Daum Communication and Naver.

On March 18, two pornographic videos were posted on Yahoo Korea and more than 20,000 users downloaded the files.

Unaware of this, Yahoo Korea left the clips unchecked for about six hours and a number of minors are believed to have downloaded the obscene video clips.

A couple of days after the Yahoo accident Naver and Daum also hosted problematic video files for hours.

The incidents raised the ire of people here and prompted the government to come up with steps to protect children and teenagers from the adult content inundating the Web.

"We project the envisioned actions will shut down access to most Web sites that spread problematic video files in cyberspace," Suh said. "We will continue to find out these Web sites and block them."

However, the effectiveness of the measure is being debated because the denied Web sites exclude ones in English and Japanese.

The Information Ministry is now checking whether an access ban on foreign-language sites will cause legal disputes or financially weigh on Internet service providers, which will have to make a big investment to do so.

In the long haul, the ministry aims to include foreign-language porn sites on its blacklist but that is not likely to happen in the near future. "We will put foreign-language sites into consideration," Suh said.