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Netizen Debate Ensues Over 'Dog Poop Girl'
Exploring how the Internet and netizens should respond to anti-social public activity
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2005-07-11 17:31 (KST)   
Photos taken by a subway passenger show the "Dog Poop Girl" ignoring her dog's mess, followed by an older gentleman cleaning up after the woman left the subway car, June 8.
There's a debate on. Many people online say that it is not acceptable for someone to have their dog leave its turds in a subway car. Others say that protecting the privacy of the person with the dog is more important than the problem the woman made for other people by her actions.

The story about the incident and the online discussion spreads around the world. Briefly here are the details as presented on the Net:
A woman gets on a subway car with her dog in Seoul. The dog pooped in the subway car. Those sitting around the woman ask her to clean it up. She doesn't. The woman responds in a rude way to the people asking her to clean it up. The woman gets off the subway car with her dog. Another passenger cleans it up. In the subway car is a netizen with a camera phone. Photos were taken of the woman, her dog and of the debris on the floor of the subway car. The photos and the account of what happened are posted and spread on the Internet. The woman is ridiculed publicly. A discussion ensues about whether or not the ridicule is appropriate to the woman's offense.
Reporters Son Hae-yong and Kwon Ho of the JoongAng Daily call the online posting of the woman's photograph and the effort to establish the identity of the woman and to ridicule her, an "Internet 'witchhunt'" ("Internet 'witch-hunts' often target innocents,'" June 8, 2005). Jonathan Krim, in an article in the Washington Post, calls the event "a remarkable show of Internet force, and a peek into an unsettling corner of the future." ("Net's power to shame felt by dog's bad owner", July 8, 2005) The English edition of the digital Chosun newspaper calls those online, "a Korean cyber lynch mob." ("'Trial by Internet' casts spotlight on Korean Cyber Mobs," July 8, 2005)

Online, the woman is referred to as a "gae-ttong-nyue," which is translated as a "Dog Poop Girl." Several of those commenting in the discussion on different blogs, express their view that the woman had done something anti-social in public and it was appropriate to publicly condemn or ridicule her actions. Others complain that the degree of publicity the woman received was of a harsher degree than her action merited and could hurt her in a way that was more serious than would be appropriate considering her deed.

Many of the comments of those condemning the online publication of the photos of the woman and the ridicule, ask what this can lead to. Those who say that she got what she deserved are considering the harmful effect on others of her leaving her dog's turds in a subway car. An aspect of the whole situation that seems in general unrecognized, is that there is online discussion about both what the woman did, and about how netizens should act when faced with such a situation.

Since there is debate and discussion questioning both what the woman did and how netizens should respond, the situation is dynamic and regenerative. It is encouraging people to discuss and think about the situation to determine, in a democratic way, what is a desirable means of posting about such anti-social activity. The discussion is encouraging people to think about what is a desirable means of not exaggerating the problem that is being exposed. Such discussion is online on blogs like Don Park's guest blog and at Marmot's Hole.

Those rushing to condemn the online discussion in the name of not harming the woman, ignore the point that the online discussion has a social value. The Internet is providing a democratic environment for netizens to explore how to respond to anti social acts without responding in a way that is too severe. While the response to the woman and her dog may have been more severe than some feel appropriate, the fact that this too is being discussed is the basis to correct the problem.

The Washington Post reporter and the reporters for JoongAng Daily and Chosun are quick to condemn the netizens and any online response to the woman's actions. They fail to recognize that the online discussion of both the actions of the woman and her dog, and of the netizens who posted the photos and contributed to the discussion online are involved in a new form of democratic exploration.

Watchful eyes on a subway and online discussion of how to deal with problems that arise are a way that netizens can bring about a new form of civic practice, a contribution to what we understand as democracy.
Some of the blogs where there has been discussion of this event are:

Discussion on Don Park's Daily Habit

Who are the victims and discussion on Marmot's Hole Blog

Forgetfoo blog discussion on Dog (Poop) Girl and Korean Netizens
©2005 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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