Choi Soon Sil Scandal Tops Online Buzz in 2016

Brandon Ko, Dec. 30, 2016, 12:52 p.m.

The most trending topics on the Internet and social media in Korea this year were the bill impeaching President Park Geun-hye and the massive influence-peddling and corruption scandal involving her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil.

The topics were analyzed by SK Telecom based on 26.7 million web documents or online buzz on news sites, Twitter, blogs and chat boards over the last year.

The No. 1 person who generated the greatest buzz was Park (3.32 million hits), followed by Choi (3.12 million). Third was Minjoo Party presidential hopeful Moon Jae-in (3.11 million)

From January to September Park generated an average 90,000 mentions, but that surged to 430,000 cases in October, when the crony scandal broke, and to 1.51 million cases in December after the National Assembly voted in support of impeaching Park. Until August, Choi was an unknown figure on the web. But she generated 1.43 million mentions in October, emerging as an explosive topic of public interest.

The most-searched key word on the Internet over the past year was the "Sewol ferry" that sank in April of 2014 with over 300 passengers and crew on board. Sewol also generated 988,565 instances of online buzz. Early this year, the matter had sunk to less than 50,000 mentions a month, but that rose to 190,000 in April, which marked the second anniversary of the tragedy, only to surge to 110,000 to 120,000 starting in November.

The reason was resurgent curiosity about the president's whereabouts in the notorious "missing seven hours" when Park was nowhere to be found during the early stages of the disaster.

The next most common key words were "impeachment" (561,038 cases), "fine dust" (487,092), and "candlelight protests" (440,081).

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