Despite its ‘globalness’, Internet use is considerably shaped by local laws and regulations. An example of this is Article 93 of the Public Official Election Act in South Korea. Introduced in 1993, this article states that no one may distribute or display any materials containing endorsement of or opposition to a candidate or a political party in the 180 days prior to Election Day. Conflicts arise as the National Election Commission applies this article to blog posts, viewer comments made at news sites and, most recently, user-generated content on Web 2.0 platforms. Enforcement is easy in the Korean context, given that Korean users are required to verify their identities by submitting their Resident Registration Numbers when they join major online services. This encouraged, if not compelled, Korean voters to move to the international domain during the residential election in 2007 to further their discussion against candidate Lee Myung-Bak when a financial scandal involving him emerged. The discussion was triggered by the discovery of two video clips implicating him. One of the videos was uploaded to YouTube and the second was disclosed through the website of a domestic newspaper and later a portal site Daum.
The present study investigated how the two video clips were shared and discussed among online users. We employed a combination of network analysis techniques: hyperlink analysis, interaction network analysis, and semantic network analysis. The analytical outcomes suggested that once users moved to the international domain, discussion of local political issues took unexpected turns due to different audience profiles.