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The Curious Case of Korean Blogger Minerva

April 14, 2009

It was on the back of yesterday’s AP article “18-month sentence sought for S Korean blogger” that I came to be aware of Park Dae-sung, a South Korean blogger who went under the name Minerva.

Minerva is the Roman name for the goddess of wisdom and Park and caused a sensation on South Korean bulletin boards at the end of last year by correctly predicting a whole range of financial news before it happened – e.g. the demise of Lehman Brothers five days before its collapse and the rapid gyrations of the Korean Won. A financial Nostrodamus was born and an Economist article tracks just how much of a stir Minerva had caused.

As with most things too good to be true, Park was tracked down by the South Korean authorities, who rather than finding a member of the global financial machine’s inner sanctum discovered an unemployed, average student who was making it up as he went along.

It’s just a brilliant story (I’m getting on a plane to lock the movie rights up now – only way I can write myself into the script!).

However, the fact that Korean prosecutors are demanding 18 months for passing on false financial information sparks an important debate about freedom of speech, versus what constitutes seeking to defraud, versus what 50 per cent of us produce on bulletin boards – hot air, flippancy and conjecture. After all, it’s up to us to decide whether we want to follow anyone’s advice, or not – isn’t it?

I wonder whether the final outcome of this case (I’ll continue to follow it closely) will have ramifications for both professional and personal communication on the internet? I’m also keen to find out more about the predictions that Minerva made that ended up miles off the mark.

In the UK, you couldn’t find enough lawyers to prosecute similar indiscretions online. Right – gotta go – I’ve got to catch a plane to Seoul…

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