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Debate reignited over sexual harassment on Afreeca TV

Afreeca TV streamer ChulGu (center) (Screencap from Afreeca TV)
Afreeca TV streamer ChulGu (center) (Screencap from Afreeca TV)

South Korean livestreaming platform Afreeca TV faced criticism Thursday for its lackadaisical response to a recent sexual harassment case on its platform.

On Wednesday, ChulGu, a popular online streamer on Afreeca TV, allegedly made sexually offensive comments to a female streamer called Adlyn while on a show together.

“You’re so my type. You give me (explicit). I feel adrenaline shooting at one place,” ChulGu was seen as saying.

The female streamer, looking visibly perplexed by his sexual harassment, eventually ended her livestream in tears.

The incident was soon widely shared by internet users. Afreeca TV declined to comment on the case.

According to the Korea Communications Standards Commission, an internet censorship body here, there is no specific way to force a telecommunications service operator such as Afreeca TV to take corrective actions on harassment cases.

“Afreeca TV is not a broadcasting station but a telecomm service operator, because its platform is based on internet, not TV frequencies. As a result, the broadcasting law doesn’t apply to Afreeca TV,” a KCSC official said.

In cases of violations by broadcasting stations, a correction order sent by the commission is mandatory.

“However, KCSC’s orders are not legally binding,” a KCSC official said.

The KCSC can currently “request” corrective actions to online streamers when they broadcast information concerning pornography, defamation, online threats and stalking, hacking and virus, media products harmful to youth and gambling and transaction of personal information.

The KCSC can only restrict online streamers by force if they are a threat to national security such as leaking top secrets, according to the Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Information Protection Act.

Over-the-top services, such as Netflix, are also exempt from the broadcasting law if they “simply play videos” already uploaded on the platforms and do not broadcast videos during a designated schedule.

“We are keeping a close eye on ChulGu,” another KCSC official said.

By Kim Byung-wook (