Jan 21, 2009

Park Dae-sung aka 'Minerva' charged with 'harming public interest'

Park Dae-sung

South Korean blogger Park Dae-sung went by the online name 'Minerva' - an appropriate choice as it turns out. The goddess Minerva governed wisdom and commerce. She is also reputed to have possessed oracular gifts - a talent Park Dae-sung also displayed.

Park Dae-sung aka Minerva had a knack for drawing in a large internet audience. At the height of his popularity it wasn't uncommon for a single blog post to attract as many as 100,000 readers. He came across as so well informed, some readers thought that perhaps he was an economics professor. As it turned out Minerva was an unemployed 31 year-old who acquired his business and financial skills primarily from surfing the web and reading books.

Minerva correctly predicted a slump in the nation's economy. He also predicted a slide in the value of Korean currency. A number of his predictions turned out to be correct. For example he predicted the collapse of Lehman Brothers a week before it occurred.

Problems arose when his statements began to impact the money market itself. In a posting dated December 29, he stated that the government had ordered financial institutions to stop buying dollars in an effort to bolster Korean currency. The post contributed to havoc on the local foreign exchange market, forcing South Korea's financial authority to come up with $2 billion to prop up the won - the national currency.

The government claims that some of Minerva's information was misleading or plain wrong. No doubt they also had an issue with the blogger's attacks on high profile players and his criticisms of the system.

The authorities tracked him down and charged him with 'spreading false information with the intent of harming public interest.'

Park Dae-sung claims he was simply trying to help people out. He said: "I wrote articles in an effort to help people who are alienated from government. Small merchants, individuals and laymen who have suffered from the financial crisis."

Park Dae-sung has been denied bail and is awaiting trial. He could be facing up to a five year sentence.