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[Media Observatory] One Million? Two Hundred Sixty Thousand?2017-01-03Hit:776

[Media Observatory] One Million? Two Hundered Sixty Thousand

The candlelight assembly that nationally urges the president to resign is continuing each day. A large gathering is held every weekend on Gwanghwamun Square. There is a lot of talk about the number of participants at the meeting. The organizers totaled 1 million, and the police counts 160,000. This time, there were 1 million organizers and 260,000 police, frequently showing many differences. Is one side exaggerated and the other downsized? The press suggests two different figures together. Does it mean to interpret the figures by averaging them out?

First of all, the ways of calculating the number of participants are different by each side.  The organizers are counted based on the number of people who came to the site on the same day, and the police is counted based on the number of people who gathered in a specific place at a specific time. In the case of game or broadcasting, the police indicates the number of viewers at a specific time, and the organizers indicates the number of cumulative users or viewers. It applies the same when a million people crowded at a beach. The number of people who have been to the beach during the day, and the number of people who were at the beach at a certain time are different. According to the method used by police, the number of people entering 3.3 square meters (1 py) is multiplied by the total sand area. Of course, people who entered the sea or restaurant can be excluded from counting. It applies the same at Gwanghwamun, since some people can be in nearby restaurants or teahouses. If the area is concentrated, more people can enter. The organizers collect the number of people from the reports by different time. The number includes the people who merely stopped by the site and went back early. Therefore, the must be a big difference in number.

Would you like to sit down on a sandy beach or a rally site and count a number of people? It is tempting, but it must be very confusing. More scientific method for analysis is required. Seoul city estimated the number of participants of candlelight assembly at Gwanghwamun based on the number of subway passengers. The number of subway passengers near Gwanghwamun station on the day of assembly was compared with the average number of passengers on the last Saturdays of November, and the portion of subway usage to the transportation means as well as the total population of the Gwanghwamun influx were calculated as variables. One data analysis company counted the number of people who went to Gwanghwamun by analyzing wireless signals from cell phones such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The company also utilized a method to check the number of visitors & re-visitors and their time of stay through the installed sensor that recognizes wireless telecommunication signals at the offline stores. The local scientists also utilized various methods for analysis; they estimated the number of participants by using the software for particle physics experiments to count the number of candles in a photo of assembly or by estimating the velocity of the crowd in consideration of their moving speed. Any of these calculation methods is much more than the police estimates.

I do not mean to say which method is more accurate. Even if it is only 260,000, is it a small number? It is more important to know why that many people were forced to take candles on the street every weekend. The reason why we want to reveal the number of participants more scientifically is that the will of the people holding candles throughout the nation should not be underestimated. It is estimated that about 3 million people will come out on the street this weekend. The accurate number of participants is unknown, and the press will also announce the results of the two sides that show many differences. However, I believe that the will of the people with the candles will be fully and accurately reported. The important thing is the meaning of candles, not the number of candles.

Contact : Lee, Sohyun ( sohyun.c.lee@kaist.ac.kr )