Members of the Korean media have come under fire this week after they filmed a man who warned via his Twitter account that he would jump from Mapo Bridge-a known suicide spot-and made good on his promise.

There staff on the scene made no effort to intervene and have been arrested as accomplices to the man’s suicide.

Mr. Son, a representative of a men’s human rights organization in South Korea, warned via his Twitter account on July 25 saying that he planned to jump from the Mapo Bridge into the Hangang River.

The group to which Mr. Son belonged is believed to have been low on funds for some time, and so he apparently wrote a plea on Twitter for donations of US$8,900 in order to keep the organization afloat and repay debts.

Nothing but smirks and ridicule

According to comments from Mr. Son, there are some 600 female rights organizations in Korea, all of which are funded by tax payers’ money. However, Mr. Son’s men’s rights group is the only one of its kind in the country and is not eligible for funding from the government. As a result, the organization is reported to have been in a poor financial state in recent years. Even after being recognized as an official citizen’s group in 2011, it was frequently ridiculed and looked down on by other organizations and received little support.

Mr. Son’s actions were apparently intended to demonstrate how serious he was about gathering funds and to act as an appeal to any would-be donors. Before he jumped from the bridge, he spoke of how he was a good swimmer and so would return unscathed; it appears that he did not intend on dying. He jumped off the bridge at around 3 p.m. on July 26 and disappeared beneath the water. His body was discovered three days later.

Concerned parties and media at the scene have become the subject of harsh criticism from the online community, with many netizens raising the question of why no one attempted to stop the man. Korean TV station KBS is believed to have rushed to the scene but the man had already jumped before they arrived.

While this is indeed a tragic story, many Koreans are describing Mr. Son’s act as one of heroism. Some have even engraved the words he posted on Twitter on the rail of the bridge at the point where he jumped. It seems that the man has touched the hearts of many Korean citizens, albeit paying the ultimate price in the process.

[ Read in Japanese ]