Drones in Asia and Cyberbullying in South Korea

20 January 2016 Author: Claudio Murri, EIF Asia Advisor

This month Claudio Murri, EIF Asia Advisor, looks into the drones regulation across Asia as well as fighting online bullying in South Korea.

Drone-makers see promise in newly regulated Asian markets

Chinese company DJI, which reportedly has an estimated 70 percent share of the global commercial market for aerial photography systems and easy-to-fly unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, said the firm’s global sales have been growing about threefold annually since 2011 and expects the market to further increase in 2016, particularly in Asia. 

As drones, are becoming increasingly popular - both with corporate customers who use drones for shooting aerial video footage, infrastructure surveillance and other tasks, and with the general public for recreational uses - many governments in the region are starting to ponder the need to regulate their use.
The Japanese parliament, the Diet, recently amended the country’s Civil Aeronautics Law, enacting new rules that ban flights of drones weighing 200 grams or more over crowded residential areas, including in major cities and all 23 Tokyo wards, at altitudes of 150 meters or higher, and near airports. Those who want to operate aerial vehicles in such areas need permission from the transport ministry. As of the beginning of January, over 4,000 individuals, companies and schools had submitted requests for permission.
Governments are not solely responsible for making sure that users learn to properly handle the devices and understand the risks involved in flying drones over areas crowded with people in the first place. Companies such as DJI’s are launching drone education programs aimed at educating not only on how to control drones, but also how to use them ethically. The insurance sector is also coming up to speed with this new market, offering specific that provide coverage for those who purchase DJI’s drones for risks such as bodily injury liability and property damage liability.

The fight against cyber bullies heats up in South Korea

South Korea is a country where interpersonal relationships operate on the principle of social harmony. It is generally considered crucial to maintain a peaceful, comfortable atmosphere at all times. The country therefore has been shocked by an increasing presence on internet blogs and social media of baseless arguments and personally harassing comments, especially aimed at celebrities and at their family members and friends. For example, after popular singer Hong Jin-young revealed that she had a colon polyp, cyber bullies said they were "disappointed it wasn't cancer."
In the past, in line with South Korean culture, stars tended to avoid openly confronting cyber bullies, even going to the extent of considering their attacks as "a sign of interest." But as the language has become more violent and extreme, celebrities and their agencies are getting determined to fight in court those spreading false facts and slandering the stars.

Celebrities, however, are not the only victims. According to recent surveys, over one in four South Korean students have been the subject of cyberbullying. The most commonly-cited case was the deliberate leaking of private information online by their peers. One in ten respondents said they were bullied while playing games online, which can involve being coerced into providing lucrative items from a game or being forced to play a game on behalf of someone. Other cases involved verbal abuse on messaging apps, in chat rooms and on social media, the report said. The South Korean government has therefore made its fight against cyberbullying public, including an alert service that notifies parents when messages containing inappropriate words arrive on their child’s smartphone. The education ministry has also noted a new form of abuse called “cyber imprisonment,” where bullies invite a victim into a chat room and verbally harass the person.

A specific “Cyber Defamation” crime was also introduced because lawmakers thought it necessary to punish this type of defamation more severely. This crime is punished more severely because things tend to spread more quickly online and the damage is more irreversible. Most times, a person who is found guilty of “Cyber Defamation” will end up with a very hefty fine. Prison sentences, although foreseen by the law, are still somewhat rare and actual prison time even rarer. Prison sentences are reserved for those “egregious” cases where the defamatory statement: 1) was based on a lie and 2) greatly affected the public at large and/or harmed the victim’s business. Although “Cyber Defamation” is a crime, the perpetrator can avoid punishment if a settlement is reached with the victim. A prosecutor cannot proceed further once the victim has made clear that he/she does not wish the perpetrator to be punished.

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