The Korea Herald


Source of radioactivity rumor caught

By 배지숙

Published : March 17, 2011 - 18:40

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An office worker in his 20s was apprehended Thursday for spreading groundless rumors that radioactive material from the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, would reach Korea.

The rumors elevated anxiety among people here who were already taken aback by the disaster in the neighboring country.

The police, however, said they had failed to detect any intention to shake up the stock market.

According to the National Police Agency, the 28-year-old man, identified by his family name Byun, passed on the text message from his cell phone on Tuesday. The man had received the text message from a Vietnamese friend. The message he received quoted a fake BBC news report warning that radioactivity would reach the air over the Philippines and that all people should evacuate. Investigators said Byun changed the word “Philippines” to “Korea.”

Byun reportedly defended himself by saying, “If the materials could reach the Philippines, it is obvious that Korea would be affected.”

After Byun sent the message to dozens of his friends through an online messenger, the words dominated Internet bulletins, news, and twitter updates within an hour. The KOSPI fell 2.4 percent to 1,882.09.

The police said Byun’s action violated a law banning distribution of false information that could cause public anxiety.

But the investigators admitted that they could not find evidence of any intention to hurt the stock market and others for his own profit.

By Bae Ji-sook  (