Risk Communication on Social Media during the Sewol Ferry Disaster

  • Song, Minsun (Department of Political Science at Valdosta State University) ;
  • Jung, Kyujin (Department of Public Administration and the Graduate School of Governance at Sungkyunkwan University) ;
  • Kim, Jiyoung Ydun (School of Communication and Culture, Datalab, Aarhus University (AU)) ;
  • Park, Han Woo (Dept. of Media & Communication, Interdisciplinary Program of Digital Convergence Business, and Director of Cyber Emotions Research Institute at YeungNam University)
  • Published : 2019.07.22


The frequent occurrence of overwhelming disasters necessitates risk communication systems capable of operating effectively in disaster contexts. Few studies have examined risk communication networks during disasters through social networking services (SNS). This study therefore investigates the patterns of risk communication by comparing Korean and international networks based on the social amplification of risk communication in the context of the Sewol ferry disaster (SFD). In addition, differences in language use and patterns between Korean and international contexts are identified through a semantic analysis using KrKwick, NodeXL, and UCINET. The SFD refers to the sinking of the ferry while carrying 476 people, mostly secondary school students. The results for interpersonal risk communication reveal that the structure of the Korean risk communication network differed from that of the international network. The Korean network was more fragmented, and its clustering was more sparsely knitted based on the impact and physical proximity of the disaster. Semantic networks imply that the physical distance from the disaster affected the content of risk communication, as well as the network pattern.



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