Networking South Korea: Internet, nation, and new subjects

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11 Scopus citations


Korea is one of a few jurisdictions which set up the Internet domestically in the early days of Internet development and has since continued to be a breeding ground for global Internet trends. In this article, I challenge attempts to construct a coherent narrative of Korea’s Internet prowess by looking at the locatable sources from which different subject positions emerged. My analysis focuses on the ways that coherent national histories emerged with mediatized subjects. I first analyze nationalist popular discourse, focusing on the media discourses of becoming an information-based society through a process of ‘informatization’ (chŏngbohwa) from a leading national newspaper. Second, I examine a counter-subject that emerged through online communities. The phenomenon of the ‘Internet freak’ (int’ŏnet p’yein) drew attention to Koreans who had been called on to become Internet users, but who had failed to comply with the circulated image of the successful Internet user. I argue that the reflexivity of Internet freaks as ambivalent subjects enables us to intervene in attempts to project Korean Internet development in terms of a coherent narrative emphasizing national prosperity and rose-tinted promises of the information society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)740-749
Number of pages10
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Internet freaks
  • South Korea
  • informatization
  • loser aesthetics
  • neoliberalism
  • subjectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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