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Wednesday, 7 February, 2001, 14:04 GMT
S Korea students in 'internet suicide'

Two teenagers in South Korea have apparently killed themselves after consulting internet sites devoted to suicide.

A 13-year-old boy is thought to have leapt 15 floors to his death from an apartment block in the southern town of Mokpo on Tuesday.

And a 15-year-old from the central town of Chongju is believed to have poisoned himself the same day.


We are trying hard to trace and close suicide sites

Chi Kyong-Yon, Computer Crime Squad
Friends and relatives of the two teenagers said they had both consulted sites which advise on how to commit suicide.

Police told AFP news agency there had now been at least six deaths directly linked to such sites.

Contract murder

The authorities began investigating suicide websites last December after the arrest of a man who said he had been paid more than $800 by a second person to stab him to death. It was the first reported case of online contracted murder.

"We need a concerted social campaign to curb the spread of harmful internet sites before they become a fad," said Chi Kyong-Yon, of the Computer Crime Squad in Seoul.

"There is no legal base to bring criminal charges against site operators unless they are directly involved in death. But such sites can be forcibly removed from the net."

Mr Chi said dozens of suicide sites had been shut down.

Investigators often have difficulties tracing harmful websites as operators run mirror sites on different host computers.

Bombs

Reports on Wednesday said Prime Minister Lee Han-dong had ordered the Ministry of Justice, Prosecution Office and National Police Agency to come up with special measures for dealing with sites providing instructions on committing suicide and making bombs.

The Chosun Ilbo newspaper said the prosecution office was setting up a new department to deal with crimes committed on the internet.

It also quoted one official saying they were worried about the appearance of bomb-making sites in the run up to the 2002 World Cup, which South Korea is co-hosting with Japan.

The paper said a school student had recently been caught selling bomb-making contents on his site, which reportedly referred to 53 bomb-making methods.

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See also:

18 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
South Korea probes internet 'suicide'
30 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan couple in net suicide pact
10 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
Suicide manual could be banned
26 Dec 98 | Asia-Pacific
Japan Internet suicide probe
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