Internet

Net Censorship, Courtesy of South Korea

The allegedly free part of the Korean peninsula has become a hotbed of thin-skinned officials and attacks on free speech

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SEOUL, South Korea — A government critic who called the president a curse word on his Twitter account found it blocked. An activist whose Twitter posting likened officials to pirates for approving a controversial naval base was accused by the navy of criminal defamation. And a judge who wrote that the president ("His Highness") was out to "screw" Internet users who challenged his authority was fired in what was widely seen as retaliation.

Such a crackdown on Internet freedom would be notable, but perhaps not surprising, in China, with its army of vigilant online censors. But the avid policing of social media in these cases took place in South Korea, a thriving democracy and one of the world's most wired societies.