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The Emergence of MZ Gangsters, Even Gangster Youtubers Appear
  • By Kim Na-young, reporter
  • 승인 2023.10.16 01:02
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▲ Members of the ‘MZ Gangster’ arrested by the Chungnam Provincial Police Agency (Source: Chungnam Provincial Police Agency)

On August 2, an incident occurred in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, where Mr. Shin drove a Rolls-Royce vehicle while under the influence of drugs, hitting and killing a passerby. In a similar incident, on August 11, in Gangnam- gu, Mr. Hong threatened another driver with a weapon, while driving a Lamborghini after consuming drugs. There are currently suspicions that the suspects in these two cases, Mr. Shin and Mr. Hong, belong to or are connected to the ‘MZ gang’ called ‘MT5.’ Taking this incident as an opportunity, the police decided that the so- called ‘MZ gang,’ made up of people in their 20s and 30s called MZ, was connected to recent crimes, and announced that they would launch a large-scale, intensive investigation.

On September 18, the Chungnam Provincial Police Agency caught 66 gang members in their 20s and detained eight for violating the law on punishment of special injuries and violent acts. Among them, 34 were born in 2002 and formed a ‘National Association’ with the purpose of, “Let’s become a national gangster,” and held continuous meetings. It is known that the National Association established a contact network of ‘MZ gangsters’ in each region through SNS and shared various criminal methods, such as how to operate illegal gambling sites and distribute cannon bankbooks. The MZ gangsters committed fraud using virtual currency, illegal online gambling, and voice phishing through shared criminal methods, and showed off their wealth by purchasing luxury apartments and foreign cars with the profits they earned. This fact was revealed through an illegal gambling site operation, which was once arrested in Busan. It was revealed that Mr. A, the 20- year- old general manager, had earned 400 billion won in profits. According to the police, the gang members only used SNS as a contact network. MZ gangsters are characterized by active use of SNS, unlike past gangsters who operated in the shadows. In particular, they mocked the video of Chief Prosecutor Shin Jun- ho, who was angry at the sight of the MZ gangsters, by uploading it to their chat room. The mockery spread online and became an intensive topic of discussion.

The ‘MZ Gang’ also expanded its reach to YouTube, which is easily accessible to teenagers. As a result of monitoring and investigating videos found through external reports and searches since September by city and provincial police offices across the country, 11 gangster YouTubers were identified. Currently, if you search ‘#gang’ or ‘#thug’ on YouTube, you will find a plethora of videos related to gangsters. Gangster YouTubers are uploading provocative videos with various content related to gangsters, such as the process of becoming a gangster, how to make money, the saga of a group fight, and an explanation of the genealogy of the organization. Some videos with the theme of gangsters rose rapidly in real-time, and you can see videos with as many as 1.4 million views. As the number of gangster YouTubers increases, YouTubers who claim to be ‘vigilantes’ and use provocations against gangsters as their main topic, have also become a popular topic. In the name of ‘true gangster education,’ they engage in acts of violence similar to those of gangsters and produce provocative content. Some YouTubers who claim to be vigilantes have uploaded videos broadcasting real-time fights with gangsters.

Professor Lee Woong- hyuk of Konkuk University’s Department of Police said, “If a person starts working in a gang at a young age, the period of time they remain in crime is longer than that of others,” adding, “This means that the negative effects on society as a whole are becoming more serious.” Presently, the likelihood that youth who are exposed to provocative violence through gangsters and vigilantes posted on YouTube will commit copycat crimes, has increased. Especially as, unlike past gangster groups, ‘MZ gangsters’ commit crimes intelligently and operate in sunny areas, so they must be cracked down and punished before their power expands. Additionally, gangsters and violence are being glorified through videos, webtoons, and novels that feature gangsters. In addition to the arrest of gangsters, the media frequently exposed to youth must be aware of the risk of copycat crimes, and measures and responses at the government level are urgently needed.

By Kim Na-young, reporter  skdud2986@naver.com

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