ILBE is a Korean-language bulletin board system website, much like 4chan, 9gag and reddit. This website has gained notoriety for its foul language, violent images, sexual and crude content, and most of all its far-right extremist political beliefs.
ILBE (일베) is an abbreviation of ‘Ilgan Best’ (일간 베스트), meaning ‘daily best’. Users upload content freely into categories of interest such as games, fashion, humour and many more. The contentious humour on the website prides itself on ‘gaedeulib’ (개드립), which is an abbreviation of ‘gaesori’ (개소리) meaning nonsense and ‘adlib’ (애드립). However, it is only the most reviled material and shocking confessions which go viral. The content has even gone so far as to hit headlines, and lead to offline prosecution. What are some of the most controversial material to have come from this site?
The primary incident that shaped ILBE concerns the 1980 Gwangju Uprising, commonly called the 5.18 as it took place on May the 18th. Many young and innocent lives were lost in the battle for democracy, and it was an event of huge injustice. Conservative ILBE users claimed that the victims fighting for democracy were communist sympathisers. From then on ILBE became a watering hole for ultra right wing and conservative views. Their political attitudes have been compared to the KKK and the Nazis.
How has ILBE grown and developed to what it is today since this incident? While politics was once the heart of the website, it has developed into a community of anarchy. Like a breeding ground for internet trolls, netizens hide behind their anonymous ID and defend their actions as ‘freedom of speech’. Nowadays, the website has moved from political posts to merely inflammatory messages designed to provoke.
During the Sewol ferry disaster in April 2014, where 250 Danwon High School students died, ILBE users poked fun at the victims and families by posting comments and image captions. In May, a photo appeared on ILBE, which outraged the general public and grieving families. In the image, the user implied that he was eating the bodies of his drowned classmates. It was found later that the ILBE user was not a student from Danwon High School, but a 30 year old man who had rented the uniform and posed for the photo. He and his accomplice served 4 months in prison.
How has ILBE gained popularity and power? Unfortunately young people are being influenced by online content, such as ILBE due to a fault in the Korean education system. There is a heavy emphasis on the core subjects; English, Korean and Math, but everything else, including history is optional at higher levels. Students who did not take up history, get their information from online sources like ILBE and unfortunate misunderstandings can occur. However the biggest and most likely cause is the angry and dissatisfied citizens, who vent their anger towards society through these means. ILBE is now more than just a website, it is has become a social networking online community, where conservative extremists and frustrated netizens converse and harass endlessly.
Many people who have been hurt and outraged by ILBE content want it destroyed, but if ILBE is erased will this cleanse Korean society? Something will surely take its place. ILBE was created by humans, thus it is a human problem. While the most extreme and shocking material takes the spotlight, there are vague hidden truths in the vile phrasing of their words. In order to contain these extremist communities, South Korean society must continue to push forward to a better future, while accepting that these sites of immoral and controversial content will always exist in the darkest crevices of the internet.
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