Most mornings I wake up, writhe in the discomfort of being awake and not being a morning person at all and angrily check reddit for my daily news. Anticipating my mood in the morning I have a multireddit with a bunch of serious news sources and some satirical stuff mixed in to make things a little easier on myself and let me tell you, sometimes I see some jokes and comics that absolutely tear into a politician or policy and I think to myself “How is that ok? How has this person able to get away with this especially when other comics have been jailed for saying anything?”. In researching for my individual ethnographic biography I’ve found there are plenty of political drama manga but it’s all fantasy/sci-fi/post apocalyptic/alternative reality stuff set in some other universe, rarely referencing real politics.
It’s a Case of National Security
“Political satire rides the Korean wave” by Hazel Mejia explains that South Korea has a national security law that allows for the criminalisation of satire. The law serves as a defence strategy against communism which supporters believe is necessary considering South Korea’s proximity to North Korea. Despite this, South Korea ranks higher on the press freedom index than Japan China and most other parts of Asia.
In 2011 an online podcast known as Naneun Ggomsuda began that satires specifically the Government of South Korea. The podcasts founder Kim Ou-Joon claims the he has ten million listeners which, if true, makes Naneun Ggomsuda (aka Naggomsu) one of the most popular podcasts in the world. South Korea has a population of fifty million, assuming that maybe half of the ten million listeners are in South Korea that would mean one in ten people in South Korea have listened to this podcast. I doubt on in ten people I know have seen Pewdiepie, the most subscribed channel on Youtube (I know a lot of older folks that don’t use computers). Because of it’s popularity Naggomsu is constantly subject to threats and lawsuits, Naggomsu is considered anti-government content and is not allowed to be viewed by members of the South Korean Military.
The Need To Talk
How can Naggomsu be so popular despite being an online podcast considered semi-illegal? It’s beloved because supporters deem it necessary to good politics. Critics see the national security law as a form of oppression to keep people in line. Funnily enough the law is intended to defend people from oppression. Pure freedom is arguably not an option but the ability to communicate and criticize gives us the power to make our own decisions and live with them. This ideology of control to protect has come under fire following the Terror attacks surrounding Charlie Hebdo Magazine in Paris in 2015 highlighting how limiting satire is crushing freedom of speech.
“The limited understanding of satire in the political realm has led to abuses of the law by the government, experts point out.” (Hyun-Ju and Hye-Jin 2015)