KakaoTalk, Facebook and Twitter have become essential tools for communication in the daily lives of Koreans, empowering some who used to be outside the consensus-building process and weakening the hold of others.
But they are also an occasionally destructive rumor mill and give malcontents the chance to vent their frustrations under the cloak of anonymity or at least from a distance.
Some 37 million Koreans or more than 75 percent of the population exchange more than six billion text messages a day via KakaoTalk. And 8.3 million Koreans use Facebook on a daily basis.
Social media account for the exchange of more information than any newspaper or broadcaster.
But the medium has been criticized for lacking responsibility for the information it conveys. Kim Min-ki at Soongsil University said, "Traditional media place the priority on checking their facts, but the social media have given individuals a huge platform without that responsibility."
Do Joon-ho at Sookmyung Women's University said, "Social media thrive on emotive rather than objective content, so it gets increasingly difficult to control the rapid spread of unconfirmed rumors or intentionally biased information."