The present research explores the differences in personal characteristics related to Korean Assembly members and constituency characteristics related to the digital divide between Korean Congresspeople using twitter and those not using twitter, and the effects of those characteristics on Korean politicians‟ communication activity on twitter.
The results are inconsistent with previous research about political adoption of web technologies. Among five variables employed in most previous research (age, party status, party type, race competitiveness, and experience in politics), only the mean for age is significantly different between groups. The mean for new variable added in the present research, the number of appearances in television news, which implies the popularity of Assembly members, however, is significantly different. Among constituency variables related to the digital divide (the proportion of male voters, the proportion of voters older than fifty, the proportion of voters with higher than college degree, the proportion of office workers, Internet penetration, and Income), the proportion of male voters and those with higher than college degree, the proportion of office workers, and Internet penetration are significantly different between Korean politicians using twitter and those not using twitter. In terms of the effects of two groups of variables on Korean Assembly members‟ communication activity on twitter, the linear regression model including personal characteristics related to politicians accounts for more variances in twitter activity than the model consisted of constituency characteristics related to the digital divide. In specific, the number of appearances in television news has a higher impact on twitter communication than any other variables.
The first implication of the present study is that in a country like South Korea where Internet penetration levels are high and fairly equal across the districts, it is unlikely that access to the Internet is not a detrimental element influencing political use of twitter. The second is that while a lot of the excitement around twitter and other digital communication technologies assumes that it will change everything, the present study goes against the grain of those who predict that twitter or other new technologies will revolutionize or democratize political communication. The last implication of this study is that the diffusion of innovation or the digital divide research is not as useful theoretically in a country like South Korea or at a time when getting access to the Internet is not as expensive.