Roh Moo-hyun’s victory on December 19, 2002, represents a major watershed in modern day South Korean politics. In this exploratory case study, we draw on historical research on the impact of the printing press on the Protestant Reformation and on the literature on the mass media and the Internet in politics to explain how the Internet influenced this presidential election outcome. Both the Internet and the Gutenberg printing press technologies dramatically changed how information was communicated. The printing press broke the control held by the Catholic Church over religious information in Europe; the Internet significantly changed how political information was communicated in South Korea where broadband access rates are four times higher than in the U.S., providing an effective alternative medium for the exchange of political information. The Church was suspicious of the quality of publications through the print media and failed to recognize its potential while Luther actively embraced it; unlike Roh, the opposing candidate as well as the print media in South Korea were wary of the information transmitted through the Internet and heavily criticized online activities. The historical parallels from this case will enable us to draw on lessons from the past in order to better understand the potential impact of the Internet in societal context. In this research, we examine the role the Internet played in Roh Moo-hyun’s upset victory in 2002. In addition to serving as an alternative source of information, the Internet was also used as a tool to coordinate Roh Moo-hyun’s supporters. Rohsamo, an online group of Roh Moo-hyun supporters, became the focal organizing structure around which the efforts of individual supporters were coordinated.
Moon, Jae-Yun and Yang, Shinkyu, "The Internet as an Agent of Political Change: The Case of "Rohsamo" in the South Korean Presidential Campaign of 2002" (2003). ICIS 2003 Proceedings. 84.