Netizens Discuss Social Stigma Against Online Community Ilbe

Ever since koreaBANG first covered the origin of the controversial online community Ilbe, Ilbe-related issues have frequently recurred on the Korean internet and media. The perception towards the website has been largely contested among netizens. Recently, netizens discussed the stigma associated with Ilbe on the Facebook page “Liberalism”. This article intends to delve into the complications as to why Ilbe is not simply considered an “evil” online community by some netizens despite the constant negative media coverage.

From Liberalism:

Thoughts about the Ilbe-phobia

1. A truly tiresome time has come. It has reached the state where prevalent disgust for Ilbe suppresses citizens’ free speech. In the current social atmosphere where Ilbe is treated like an absolute evil, conservative citizens cannot help but feel uncomfortable. Many of them remain silent because they are afraid to be associated with Ilbe when they express their conservative opinions. However, it upsets them to silently listen to illogical criticisms towards the government.

2. What created Ilbe in the first place was such oppression. Internet progressives who resort to emotionalism, calling for justice, spread like an epidemic because they enjoyed the sweet pleasure of feeling moral superiority through blindly shouting anti-government chants without any logic. For them, the government is the perfect scapegoat to blame every problem in their life as the primary cause.

3. The Internet that was occupied by the progressive’s voices forced silence on other political perspectives. If four out of five people share the same opinion, the other one stays silent. According to the “spiral of silence” theory, people tend to be quiet no matter how proper they think their opinion is, if they think other people around them will argue against them. Conservatives have long remained silent in the spiral. Just like the Christians hid in catacombs to avoid persecution during the Roman Empire, conservatives hide in the dark corners of the internet.

4. Due to the internet subculture’s characteristics, deviant acts that go against the existing social rules happen on the internet. Because the people who could not mesh with mainstream society formed the community. Ilbe’s anti-social culture dubbed as unethical was born out of their hermit activities. Hence, we need to think about what created Ilbe and reflect on it before we express extreme disgust for everything related to Ilbe.

5. The extreme disgust for Ilbe, so-called “Ilbe-phobia”, drives conservatives and Ilbe into the darkest corners and also puts shackles on ourselves. Just because a celebrity from Gyeongsang province used a dialect on his social media site, he got mired in an Ilbe controversy and had to clarify himself. On some comedy show, they were accused of being Ilbe users for dressing like owls. We are living in a very weird era. Various social taboos stemming from Ilbe-phobia police citizens. We have to be careful not to be associated with Ilbe with every word we say.

6. How is it different from the public policing era when those who opposed the government were persecuted as commies? The oppressor merely changed from the government to the public. No, I would say it is worse now. Just because Ilbe does it, we have lost the freedom to criticize former President Roh Mu-hyun’s political footsteps. We cannot discuss the irrationality of candlelight vigils. We are scared to voice conservative opinions. This infringes on our freedom of political expression, and suppresses our behavior and thoughts.

7. The number of simultaneous users on Ilbe exceeds 20,000 on average and the number of monthly visitors is more than 4 million. It is already an overwhelmingly big community. It is impossible to keep such a big group underground after all. Such an attempt would only cause bad side effects. Shouldn’t we encourage them to come out of the closet and turn themselves into a community that can voice reasonable conservative opinions, instead of stigmatizing them with Ilbe-phobia?

8. Instead of blind ostracism against Ilbe, we should promote a social atmosphere where we can listen to their political viewpoints while we criticize some users’ anti-social antics. Oppression against conservatives on the internet has created a catacomb called Ilbe, and social ostracism and disgust for Ilbe has driven them to the darkest corners of the internet. Maybe could it have been our narrow-mindedness that fostered Ilbe?


“Are you an Ilbe bug? Brainless Ilbe bugs are coming!”

Comments from Liberalism:
Joonsic Yang:

1. It is not Ilbe-phobia that suppresses our free speech. Even before Ilbe emerged, people called each other conservative idiots or lefty commies and did not communicate with one another very well. Also, Ilbe bashed the left side much more strongly even before the Ilbe-phobia got prevalent.

2. Ilbe wasn’t created to fight against some sort of oppression in the first place. It was just a website that collected funny posts. Illogical government bashing should be discouraged, but Ilbe-phobia is against anti-social acts, not the government.

3. Why did you randomly bring up the “spiral of silence” theory? Did you want to sound smart? Even the party in power right now is conservative. I doubt conservatives are such a minority group that is less than 20% of the population.

4. Anti-social acts are one of the traits of internet subculture? Can you justify the appalling behavior shown on Ilbe? What is unacceptable in society should not be acceptable on the internet. What created Ilbe? The fact that there are unacceptable acts in society? Should normal people feel sorry that they do not condone anti-social and unethical acts even on the internet?

5. The extreme disgust for Ilbe was created by Ilbe themselves and they even enjoyed the attention. Those who get hurt are reasonable conservatives. I hope you don’t equate Ilbe to conservatives by saying “Ilbe and conservatives went underground”. I do agree that witch-hunting innocent people with Ilbe-phobia is wrong.

6. Ilbe users also witch-hunt people with a leftist stance and call them names like “skate.” You need to recognize that the target of suppression is Ilbe’s unethnical behavior, not the conservatives. It is their freedom to criticize former President Roh’s political footsteps. However, vulgar meme words like “unji”, “nomunomu”, “Roh-ala”, etc. are the problem. Not everything can be justified under freedom of speech. Conservatives grew wary of expressing their opinions, not because people suppress Ilbe but because immoral Ilbe users cos-play themselves as conservatives. Reasonable conservatives still use reasonable language even on Ilbe. Do you think Ilbe users refrain from doing bad things because they are afraid of the stigma? It seems they enjoy the attention and do even more.

7. Then are you saying we should embrace anti-social and unethical behavior in order to bring Ilbe into the mainstream? That is absolutely impossible. There will be huge problems. Also, are you saying Ilbe users are persecuted conservatives trapped underground at this point?

8. For Ilbe to come out of the closet, they should abandon their anti-social language and unethical antics through self-purification. They can openly reveal themselves if they only share reasonable conservative opinions. As long as they enthusiastically enjoy such antics, Ilbe-phobia is unavoidable. Your article overall insinuated that social ostracism against Ilbe means ostracism against conservatives. But it came from Ilbe’s unethical behavior. Is it narrow-minded to bash such things? I agree that Ilbe-phobia interferes with conservative voices and produces many bad effects in this regard. At first, I thought I would be able to agree with your point as the topic itself was good. However, the article turned into defense for Ilbe. You took a very wrong stance and came to a weird conclusion that Ilbe should come out of the closet. I see your point about Ilbe-phobia’s side effects, but I cannot agree with your article overall.

Sally Yan:

When I try googling for useful info, many posts from Ilbe come up in the search results. In other forums, they don’t share such semi-expert-level knowledge much and even if you write such posts, there are not enough people who read them. An article about the bubble effect for a sinking ship after the Sewol accident was posted on Nate Pann and Women’s Generation. If I remember correctly, the comments were like these.

“It seems like a good post, but girl, it is too long to read…”
“Re: 22222 [seconded]”
“Re: 33333 [thirded]”
“Isn’t this post from Ilbe….?”

Most comments were like that. Many communities do not have the intellectual level to digest quality posts and many of them don’t even want to read much. It seems they only like to gossip about entertainment news and satisfy their intellectual vanity through reading a few lines on internet news. It seems like a Korean trait to not study at a deep level. This country brands those who study out of genuine intellectual curiosity as otakus. On the other hand, when the article was posted on Ilbe, it received many comments and I saw college students and those who majored in the field discussing it. It was something I couldn’t find from other sites. Ilbe users have a lot of curiosity and know how to share ideas with others although they use coarse language. This trend has died down a lot over time, but even a year ago, Ilbe was flooded with quality posts. That’s why you get many Ilbe articles in the top Google search results for whatever topic. Since they have a lot of intellectual curiosity, there are many quality posts, too. However, if you try to share those articles, 7 out of 10 would say they won’t check it out because they don’t want anything to do with Ilbe. The Ilbe stigma is so strong. I’m not good at writing but maybe Liberalism readers here know what I’m talking about. Does something happen if they read Ilbe just for 30 sec? Idiots.


I wonder if people would ask me whether I use Ilbe if I clicked the “Like” button for this article…


When lefty zombies lose in an argument, they say “You are an Ilbe bug, aren’t you?”

Sally Yan:

Just because this site dissed Mayor Park Won-soon and former presidential candidate Moon Jae-in, there were too fucking many people wearing the “enlightened citizen” arm bands to police the site. Those guys don’t just hate Ilbe. They just have no attitude to acknowledge different ideas. What’s the point of doing well in exams and going to a good school if they have no ears for others?

Wonjae Woo: [Site admin]

Of course, some Ilbe users’ anti-social play culture should be criticized. However, we cannot generalize all Ilbe users and ostracize them altogether when the website has more than 20,000 simultaneous users. When conservatives were a minority on the internet, blind oppression of them created today’s Ilbe. I wrote this article light of this fact.


Kids, you guys are not bashed for being conservatives. Look at the posts on your Ilbe site. Something like “A way to check whether your mom is a Kimchi bitch” is posted there. Wouldn’t it be weird if there were no backlash? You are called out for being Ilbe bugs because you use words like “lefty zombie”, “lefty commie” and “Kimchi bitch” when you comment. Then you claim you are persecuted for expressing conservative opinions. Sane conservatives are different from you. You guys undermine normal conservative citizens’ reputations. Please do not think you are bashed for being conservatives. Just look at your own site’s posts and you should know why you get bashed.

Yoon Soo Jang:

Progressive and left-wing groups seem to think they can embarrass people who have different opinions by saying “You are an Ilbe bug, aren’t you?” and branding them as immoral people who enjoy making fun of dead people. But in my opinion, no matter how hard Ilbe users try, they cannot catch up with progressive and left-wing groups’ ability to make unethical comments. Even after it’s all been proven false, they still accuse Park Chung-hee of being a pro-Japanese traitor. They claim we should get rid of the statue of McArthur who saved the Republic of Korea, etc. They have made spine-chilling remarks, yet they get mad at netizens who just play around making Koala drawings for “insulting the dead”. I wonder if they ever look back on what they have done. Is it a good criticism to make fun of Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, calling them rat and chicken but such an inconceivable blasphemy to call Roh Mu-hyun a koala? They told old people to stay home and not vote to reduce conservative votes from old folks. Those pregressive and left-wing groups are the ones who said if you are over 60, your brains become rotten and abnormal. I find it very hypocritical when I see them go on about how Ilbe is an evil site because of some Ilbe users’ abnormal acts. I’m not condoning some Ilbe user’s bad behavior. I’m just asking whether our progressive and left-wing groups have the right to cast a stone to Ilbe.

Sally Yan:

I also don’t agree that Ilbe represents conservatism. They just think it’s cool to support Park Geun-hye and it’s fun to bash Roh Mu-hyun. Many of them would bash Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hey if they were in the same position as Roh Mu-hyun. Nevertheless, they are the only community that voices conservative viewpoints and takes action as a group on the internet. A lot of people do not even know their own country is still in a cease-fire. They call the US an international thug although they don’t exactly know why, but have no complaint towards China. An ignorant mob is dangerous because they don’t have the ability to filter out wrong information. They say North Koreans are also our people but the majority of them are ignorant. They were educated to believe their Dear Leader is the best. You may think they are poor starving brothers and sisters, but those 20 million North Korean commoners are the ones who worship their leader as the only god and will point a gun at us if a war breaks out. The only big internet community who’s aware of this? Maybe it’s only Ilbe. Ilbe is still a necessary evil. I barely impose my view on others or try to give definite answers. I don’t think there should be one correct answer for everything after all. My political perspective is extremely conservative, but I never said a word to my left-leaning friends who clicked the “Like” button on some government-bashing posts. I just think there are such opinions, too. In the current Korean political situation, there is one issue that has only one correct answer. That is the issue of inter-Korean relations. I sometimes see people who regard North Korea as an enemy on some other sites, but I’ve never seen them consider North Korean people as enemies. Also, even when the groups that threaten our free democracy run amok, most Internet communities advocate them just because they hate the government without much knowledge and just use the excuse that our country is democratic. I don’t think using Ilbe itself is bad. Ilbe is the only website that covers such topics and there are many useful posts, too. It is true that there are many unethical and abnormal posts, too. Many people stay away from Ilbe because of that. However, what’s clear is that Ilbe is still a necessary evil. Nothing comes out of blind disgust. It is definite that Ilbe still does more good than harm.

Jeong Hyun Nam:

Honestly, it is true that Ilbe is a monster created by the mad cow disease turmoil. If leftists have brains, they should reflect on their role as the birth mother for Ilbe before criticizing them. But I doubt they would do so because the leftists today only have hearts but no brains.


When Saebu bastard was the admin, I used Ilbe for about 2 years and it’s been almost a year since I stopped going there. At least right now, it is not the type of site you can call conservative or rightist. It was decent only when young conservatives in the politics forum made fact-based posts. Now it is just a playground for empty-headed teenagers. That’s why I quit using it. When those teens who don’t even know the timeline of Korean presidents call themselves conservative or rightist, they’re no different from those leftist cos-players who think it’s just cool.

From Naver Knowledge-iN: [September, 2014]

Exactly what is Ilbe like?



The origin of Ilbe traces back to about 5 years ago. At the DC Inside Comedy Gallery, some bored dude named Moe-Myungsu created a website that collected popular posts from famous galleries, but it failed soon after. Afterwards, a guy named SAD created Ilbe in the current form and a self-acclaimed wheelchair rider Saebu took it over and claimed complete independence from DC Inside. The crazy current admin Unma bought Ilbe at a large sum of 2 billion won and he’s getting all kinds of insults for not running the site to the taste of Ilbe bugs.

Ilbe is mainly a humor site and there are additional forums such as the politics forum. Although politics is secondary, Ilbe shows strong conservative traits because many far-rightist users from DC Baseball Gallery moved to Ilbe. If you actually read Ilbe for a few days, you will find unexpected things from Ilbe that have been exaggerated in descriptions by the left-leaning media. Photoshopped photos, synthesized music, jokes and various informative posts are the main focus. Their language is coarse and blunt but they share photos of their dogs or cats, or they compete for who has worse disability or who goes to the worse school or who’s poorer. The main user demographic is males in their 20s and 30s. Most of them are ordinary students, workers, unemployed guys, or those who are seeking a job. Sometimes, you can see unique people such as judges, prosecutors, doctors, chaebol sons, pilots, soldiers, etc. who prove their identity on the website.

The positive function of Ilbe, which the media or social networks do not cover, comes from its leveling system. There are levels from 0 to 30 among Ilbe users. If you have a high level, you get bashed for being a true Ilbe bug even in Ilbe, but Ilbe bugs want to level up to get attention and show off. To level up, they have to get lots of up-votes for their posts. Most Ilbe bugs who cannot create photoshopped photos or synthesized music that are popular on Ilbe choose to do something different. That is, doing a good deed and showing it off. It is the easiest way and you get less bashing, so most users try to level up in this way.

For example, they wake up early in the morning and clean up a nearby hill or an alley. They report a drunk person who passed out on the street to the police. They report smoking teenagers to the police. They take care of lost cats or dogs. Or they pick up a lost wallet or a phone and find its owner. They call it “Jup” in Ilbe terms, which means picked up.

Ex) “Picked up a drunk ajushi”, “Picked up a bird with a broken leg”, “Picked up trash at the neighborhood hill in the early morning”, “Picked up a wallet”. They upload proof in photos to get up-votes. Sometimes they also donate to UNICEF or World Vision and show the statement to get up-votes.

Saving an abandoned kitten

Returning a lost wallet to the police station

Donating to a Ugandan child.

There is very little damage inflicted by Ilbe in real life. On Ilbe, they talk tough like “I will break all your teeth”, “I will cut you with a sashimi knife”, “I have a rifle at home”, “I’m a Jiu-jitsu black belt”, “Tell your little sister to watch out at night”, but they know very well that these are just big-mouthed Ilbe bugs who cower at the sight of their boss at work. But the media writes exaggerated stories as if these things really happen, which contributes to Ilbe’s negative image. Controversial cyberbullying and insulting dead people have always existed since the heyday of Humor University and DC Inside. However, because Ilbe unprecedentedly unified conservatives, left-biased media began shedding light on Ilbe around the time of the presidential election in 2012 in an attempt to depict Ilbe as representative of conservatives. This is called Ilgis [Ilbe + Aegis] Ship or Ilbe meat shield. They created the public perception that Ilbe represents conservatives and does all kinds of bad things, even though such things have also existed in other Internet communities such as DC, Humor Univ, SLR Club, etc.

In various online games or other websites, there are trolls who try to draw attention by acting as if they are Ilbe bugs. Most of them are teenagers. They are losers at school who need love and attention. Those losers who want to get attention at least on the Internet choose to aggravate others in Ilbe’s style, because it works very well. So they end up doing that frequently. If you guys don’t get aggravated and ignore them, they will realize that they are trash who can’t even get attention online. You might as well hear heartwarming stories that they killed themselves, so just ignore them.

From Naver Knowledge-iN: [August, 2014]

I’m curious about Ilbe.



Ilbe is a topic that frequently appears on current affairs news these days. I will give you an answer for why Ilbe is bashed. Before I begin, I’ll make it clear that I’m a conservative rightist. Also, my post won’t be another “Ilbe’s shocking atrocities!” type of article that lists what bad things have happened on Ilbe. I will explain the background for the Ilbe hate here, so do not misunderstand.

First of all, you basically need to know what Ilbe is like. It originated from DC Inside. Now DC is almost dead but it used to be so popular back then. New posts were quickly uploaded and there were many users. New posts quickly became old posts buried in the back pages. A website to save the most fun posts each day from DC was created. That is Ilbe. That was the original function of Ilbe but after DC Inside died, many users found new home at Ilbe.

If you browse DC, you will notice that there are numerous galleries for different topics. For example, baseball, politics, history, university entrance exam, etc. What would happen if all these users gathered together? Wouldn’t you see mixed traits of different galleries in one place? That’s why you can find a mixture of various traits from DC Galleries in Ilbe. For example, Baseball Gallery: they claim they are retards. Politics Gallery: conservative rightist stance. Photoshop Gallery: creating millions of different images using one target source such as Roh Mu-hyun, etc.

That’s enough for Ilbe’s background. Now let’s find the answer to your question. As you know, leftist governments ruled the country for 10 years. Coincidentally, the internet infrastructure in Korea matured during that period. When common people began using the internet, leftists had the upper hand in politics. They quickly and firmly occupied every corner of the internet. It was especially intense during Roh Mu-hyun’s presidency. Although the public sentiment took a sharp turn towards favorable after his suicide, he managed the nation terribly. The lowest approval rating at that time was an unbelievable 5.7%. Enraged by this, Nosamo (People Who Love Roh My-hyun) set their eyes on the internet. As a result…


“[Nosamo’s] organized manipulation of online polls.”

Nosamo manipulated online sentiment by using multiple accounts. All Korean internet sites ended up getting a leftist bias. It was still no big deal as the Presiident was leftist himself. People already knew President Roh was imcompetent, so they could ignore whatever they read on the internet. Time passed by and Lee Myung-bak begins his presidency. By then, the internet has settled well in our life. Even older people began using the internet after they heard about it so much. More credible quality information was available on the internet than ever before.

But then, the shame in Korean political history, the mad cow disease turmoil broke out. You know that very well, right? “If you eat American beef, you will die with holes in your brain.” “You will become a zombie and infect others.” All kinds of rumors came out. There was even the bullshit that 95% of Koreans are vulnerable to the infection. Citizens were frightened and directed their anger towards President Lee Myung-bak. Of course, Nosamo and other leftist groups fanned the flames and manipulated public sentiment. They even hired part-time workers for anti-American and anti-government candlelight vigils.


Propaganda poster: “Infection routes of the mad cow disease is scarier than AIDS”


“How to get 10 million online signatures for impeachment of Lee Myung-bak quickly [by repeatedly creating a new ID to sign and then deleting the ID]”

You know what’s really funny? They went apeshit as if Koreans would die in mass, but the number of “infected” people in Korea is zero so far. Not a single case of infection, let alone a single dead person. According to the claims at that time, Korea would be full of zombies by 2013, which is 5 years after 2008. 2013 has passed. We are okay, aren’t we? After the mad cow diease propaganda, our people learned a big lesson. “Oh, it is really foolish to hold anti-government protests based on false propaganda.” Afterwards, the public opinion critical of pro-North Korean leftist camp’s blatant anti-government propaganda has gradually formed. It was 99% leftists and 1% rightists on the internet in the past, and the rightists just began waking up. However, progressives already had a strong foothold on the internet. You can find so many leftist communities such as Today Humor, Ppomppu, MLB Park, Lemon Terras, Daum Agora, Nosamo, etc. There was only one place for conservatives who were newbies on the internet. That was none other than Ilbe.

Ilbe is conservative rightist. They extremely hate false propaganda that has no factual basis. The number of daily visitors on Ilbe exceeds 1.4 millions. Of course, their influence is big. Recently, “privatization of railroads” has been the hot topic and it had the potential to become as big as the mad cow diease anti-government chaos. Leftists seethe at President Park Geun-hye who is a conservative rightist.

However! What do we have in 2014 that we didn’t have back in 2008? That is Ilbe. Ilbe users quickly shared correct information and debunked the leftists’ various false claims about privatization in the early stage of the propaganda and prevented potentially big damage to the country. If this propaganda worked again…. Ahh, I don’t even wanna imagine it. Now let’s look at things from a leftist perspective.


Lee Seok-gi, “Let’s instigate crowds to create chaos like in the 2008 mad cow disease chaos.”

Since leftist Moon Jae-in failed and rightist Park Geun-hye sat as president, they thought they should quickly create social chaos like in the 2008 mad cow disease chaos and drop the approval ratings for the government. However, Ilbe suppressed their propaganda in a timely manner. What would Ilbe look like to them? Wouldn’t it be such a nuisance? So the leftists set their targets on Ilbe.

“Since every false anti-government “fact” is debunked by Ilbe, we should instigate a negative public sentiment towards Ilbe!” Hence, they began demonizing Ilbe. As I said before, Ilbe users claim they are retards who hate hypocrisy and fake pleasantry. You even get bashed if you use respectful language there. In such an atmosphere, sometimes, there are excessive posts that cross the line. Whenever there are such posts, leftists quickly collect and spread it as “Ilbe bugs’ atrocities”. They even disguise themselves as Ilbe users and post nonsensical things on Ilbe in an attempt to draw negativity as if it represents all Ilbe user’s thoughts. This is called “trolling”.

And this attempt has been successful. Ilbe’s image could not be worse. We’ve reached the state where if you say you are on Ilbe, you get socially shamed. You know what the leftists really wanted? To resume their propaganda. If you shove debunking posts from Ilbe into their faces, they can just say “You are an Ilbe bug, aren’t you?” and voila. Then every fact and piece of data an “Ilbe bug” shows suddenly becomes worthless. This is what’s up with Ilbe’s demonization. The absolute majority leftist sites vs. one rightist site. The leftists who won in this battle keep promoting the public perception that Ilbe is a very bad site and conservative rightists represented by Ilbe are also very bad guys.

Now, let’s sum it up.
1. The internet was traditionally occupied by leftists.
2. Ilbe has become a strong bastion for conservative rightist netizens.
3. Because their propaganda doesn’t work very well like during the mad cow disease protests, leftist began demonizing Ilbe.
4. Demonization has been successful. Leftists resume their propaganda.
5. Demonized Ilbe users can only be bashed no matter what they say.

Of course, Ilbe is not a flawless site, either. Their hate for North Korea, leftists, and ignorant mobs is extreme. Their bashing of former presidents Roh Mu-hyun and Kim Dae-jung can be excessive. They use coarse language and curse words like it’s nothing. They don’t acknowledge Jeolla-do as a part of our country. They are ruthless about the so-called “Kimchi girls” who leech off guys. However, I want you to know that Ilbe is not such a bad site that hosts criminals or terrorists.

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