YouTube revolution: Koreans who remember the war tune out mainstream media

Distrust in the mainstream media is not limited to the U.S. but is said to be more intense in South Korea which lacks conservative alternative media and is facing what earlier would have seemed impossible: the threat of a left-wing dictatorship.

For many, YouTube is the only platform for reliable information and news, especially among older generations who experienced the Korean War, initiated by the communist North Korean regime, and who believe impeached President Park Geun-Hye was railroaded.

Supporters of former President Park Geun-Hye at a rally in Seoul. / YouTube

Park much earlier served in 1974 as acting first lady for her father, President Park Chung-Hee, after her mother was killed by pro-North Korean militants attempting to assassinate her husband. Park Chung-Hee headed an anti-communist authoritarian government later credited with the nation’s post-war economic boom. Succeeding administrations gave way to a full democracy.

Seoul-based correspondent Don Kirk wrote yesterday: “The danger of leftist dictatorship is evident in just about every significant walk in life, in labor unions, in schools and universities, on the editorial pages of the media, in corporations ranging from huge chaebol to mom-and-pop shops and stands with only a few people on the payroll.”

The English language Korea Times in a Jan. 1 report noted: “YouTube has become an alternative channel for people who could not find information they want in traditional media. In particular, Korea has observed more and more people with conservative views making their debut on YouTube, which may be the only media platform where those radical conservative groups take a dominant position.”

Related: Scary trends in once anti-communist South Korea, December 31, 2019

The report noted that conservative channels on YouTube are far surpassing the channels of liberal media outlets.

“A Skill of God” channel has 1.16 million subscribers. The “Pennmike” channel run by popular conservative columnist Jeong Kyu-Jae had more than 634,000 subscribers as of Dec. 29.

The numbers of subscribers for channels run by traditional media outlets such as SBS, KBS and MBC range between 477,000 and 567,000.

According to Social Blade, a social media statistics provider, “A Skill of God” marked 51.29 million video views from Nov. 28 to Dec. 29, while JTBC News earned 28.67 million during the same period.

“Many elderly people, now all having smartphones, share links to the channels with each other and talk about the ‘new information’ which traditional media doesn’t share,” the Korea Times report said.

The report cited a 62-year-old man, who only wanted to be identified by his surname Nam, who runs a channel on YouTube. A regular participant of rallies in support of former President Park, he usually brings his tripod and brand-new smartphone for live streaming.

“Currently I have 124 subscribers on my channel, and most of them are my friends and people I met during protests. I don’t really care about being famous and becoming a YouTube star or something, because it is certainly not my goal. I just want to spread the truth I believe at least to people around me,” Nam said.

A reporter for a local newspaper told the Korea Times that his mother “only watches news from YouTube channels, which she believes reliable, even though her son, I, am working as a reporter.”

The reporter’s mother believes Park is innocent and the corruption scandal surrounding her is a conspiracy by leftists who are ruining the country. She believes traditional media never tells the truth but only YouTubers do.

“Inevitably, she has been participating in rallies by radical conservative groups, demanding invalidation of Park’s impeachment, and her immediate release from prison. She cannot memorize my phone number, but skillfully handles her smartphone to watch video clips on YouTube,” the reporter said.

READ MORE STORIES ABOUT: