NewJeans Seek To Sue Anonymous YouTuber For Defamation

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These days, internet fandom is an intense, fraught phenomenon that sometimes pits pop stars against their own listeners. In the world of South Korean pop music, it’s even more intense and fruaght than it usually is in the rest of the world. Case in point: NewJeans, the hugely popular K-pop girl group, are getting American courts involved in their attempts to shut down an anonymous YouTuber.

The New York Times reports that representatives for NewJeans have requested that a California federal court order Google to reveal the identity of an anonymous YouTube user. In their court filing last month, NewJeans claimed that a YouTuber with the handle @Middle7 has made defamatory statements about the group in videos that have been viewed millions of times. NewJeans’ lawyer Eugene Kim also claims that the account has engaged in “name-calling or other mocking behavior,” which “continue to inflict significant reputational damage.” The account appears to be deleted now.

Defamation and insult are criminal offenses in South Korea, and it’s apparently common practice for K-pop stars and their handlers to use prosecution and defamation lawsuits to defend their reputations. That’s relatively easy to do when the fans insulting the groups use social media platforms based in South Korea, but it’s harder on sites like YouTube, though Google has previously revealed the identity of a user who was defaming a member of the group IVE.

NewJeans already filed a criminal complaint against @Middle7 at a Seoul police station, but since police didn’t know the identity of the YouTuber, they couldn’t go forward. It’s not entirely clear whether the YouTuber in question even comes from South Korea, and I’d be curious to know whether that would even have any bearing on this case.