Hackers mount 'holy war' after Expo's Super Junior ticket fiasco

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 June, 2010, 12:00am

Hackers have attempted to bring down a South Korean government website and online forums dedicated to boy band Super Junior. The attacks came after thousands of mainland fans missed out on free tickets, causing chaos at the World Expo.

South Korea's Ministry of Public Administration and Security said the government portal korea.go.kr was continuously attacked from more than 120 Chinese internet protocol (IP) addresses for nearly four hours, the country's Yonhap News Agency reported yesterday.

The attack, an attempt to block the site by hackers who called their actions a 'holy war', lasted from 8.18pm until midnight. The ministry tried to fend it off by cutting off the IP addresses.

Thousands of mainland fans failed to get free tickets for a concert by the South Korean band at Shanghai's Expo Performance Centre on May 30. Reports had said that 2,000 tickets would be given away, but only 500 were available. At least a dozen people were injured, and the authorities were forced to deny a report that one person died.

The 'holy war' reference is from the online computer game World of Warcraft, where players team up to destroy their enemies. The idea has been used before by internet users to block or attack the websites of celebrities. Apart from the government website, other mainland websites, blogs and forums for supporters of Super Junior were hacked or exploded (overloaded with visitors and posts) by thousands of angry internet users.

The 'holy war' was launched on a Baidu forum dedicated to World of Warcraft. The hackers argued that South Korea was responsible for the chaos.

'The war didn't reflect patriotism but fanatical and strong nationalism,' Song Shinan, a prominent blogger and media analyst, said in an online panel discussion on the People's Daily's website.

He said the psychology behind it shared some elements with the Boxer Rebellion and Red Guards, with participants setting up an enemy to search for a sense of belonging.

'The leading force is an angry and confused generation in a society in transition,' Song said. 'They don't know what they are after and easily feel frustrated ... so they become confident through nationalism.'

Hu Yong, a professor at Peking University who is familiar with mainland internet issues, said: 'I don't take the campaign too seriously ... But I think we should pay attention to one thing the campaign reflects: that the public of the two countries might be forming bad impressions of each other, which is not good for the relationship between China and South Korea.'

Cyber war

The number of Chinese IP addresses that were involved in the attack on a South Korean government portal: 120