The Two Koreas in Keywords

Dec 28, 2010
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Cheonan. Yeonpyeong. North Korean Face-girl. Mt. Baekdu. What were the hottest keywords for Koreans in 2010?

March: The Cheonan incident and conspiracy theories

A South Korean warship, the Cheonan, was sunk in the West Sea on 26 March in an alleged North Korean torpedo attack, killing 46 sailors. While the government was busy dealing with the disaster, Korean bloggers traded conspiracy theories and other explanations for incident. As tensions between the two Koreas intensified over the year, the Net chatter about the Cheonan gradually disappeared. (China and Hong Kong's Responses to the Incident, By Oiwan Lam)

June: North Korean ‘Face-girl'

A YouTube video of a pretty North Korean girl bragging about her high living standard became a hit in South Korea around June. The ‘North Korean Face-girl', as she was called by South Korean bloggers, praised the regime in her country and its leader Kim Jong-il for his generosity to her family. South Koreans dismissed this as the same old propaganda in new clothing, pointing out that the computer she used was made by a US company despised by North Korea. (Read More)


271 Image of Seoul's richest district, taken by Patriotmissile, Under Wikipedia Creative Commons



July: Smartphones and Mega-Tweeters

The astronomical growth of smartphones and Twitter in South Korea made them game changers in the business sector. Samsung, one of South Korea's biggest companies, waged a fierce battle with Apple in smartphone markets. Many homegrown South Korean social networking services faced uphill battles against Twitter. As more than one million South Koreans started tweeting, Mega-Tweeters – those with more than several thousand followers - sprang up and started gaining influence. (Read More)

North Korea opened its Twitter account, an irony in a notoriously reclusive nation.


July and August: North Korean Twitter - high risk with no gain.

North Korea opened its Twitter account, an irony in a notoriously reclusive nation. North Korean twitter account @Uriminzok ('our nation' in Korean) drew huge media attention worldwide, gaining thousands of followers overnight. The South Korean government soon blocked the page for security reasons, but interest among South Koreans had already begun to fade as they realized that the regime's tweets were no more than several-decades-old propaganda and blatant self-praise.


July: The 2010 FIFA World Cup and Jong Tae-se

The FIFA World Cup fever briefly thawed the tension between the two Koreas. People focused on the North Korean people and players, rather than the regime. Jung Tae-se, a North Korean football player who was originally from the South, became hugely popular in South Korea. The North Korean team did not perform well and many hoped that there was no truth in the talk that the team would, when it got home, be severely reprimanded by the regime. (Read More)


September: Kim Jong-un, the ‘Son-Pig'

When Kim’s youngest son, Kim Jong-un, was identified as Kim’s heir, there was much analysis and chatter on the online forums. The reaction to the news ranged from serious commentaries on how the young and dangerously inexperienced Kim would be able to run the impoverished nation to countless harsh jokes mocking Kim’s appearance, calling him ‘the son pig’. (China's reaction to the succession, By Andy Yee)


272 Satellite picture displaying the Korean peninsula at night. Almost No Lights coming out from North Korea, Created by NASA (Public Domain), Wikimedia Commons



October: Reunification Tax and Mt. Baek-du

Despite the constant conflict with its northern counterpart, the South Korean government continued to see the reunification of two Koreas as a goal within its reach. It suggested a reunification tax, prompting widespread public discussion. Another major topic of discussion was the possibility raised by geologists of an eruption of Mt. Baekdu. Experts said that if North Korea’s highest mountain with an active volcanic core, Mt. Baekdu, were to erupt, the aftermath would be 10 times more destructive the volcanic eruption in Iceland in April. (Read More)


November: The Yeonpyeong incident