A Seoul court on Wednesday sentenced South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo, a close associate of President Moon Jae-in, to two years in prison for colluding with a power blogger in connection with an online opinion-rigging scandal in 2017.
The Seoul Central District Court viewed Gov. Kim, once a presidential hopeful, as an accomplice to blogger Kim Dong-won, known as Druking, to manipulate public opinion in favor of then-presidential front-runner Moon.
Gov. Kim, 52, was immediately taken to a detention facility from the courthouse.
Kim had been briefed on the list of articles Druking sought to manipulate, aware of the blogger’s use of the computer program to click on online comments in favor of the party and Moon, and ordered Druking to rig comments on certain online articles, the court said.
Gov. Kim was charged with obstruction of business and violation of the Public Official Election Act. If the verdict is confirmed by the Supreme Court, Kim’s governorship could be nullified and he could be stripped of his right to run for office for five years.
The governor has denied the charges.
“I will begin a long fight toward truth again. The process to reveal truth will continue and I believe in the power of truth,” Gov. Kim said in a letter read by his lawyer in front of the courthouse.
Earlier in the day, blogger Kim Dong-won was sentenced to three years and six months in jail on charges of manipulation of public opinion and bribery. The blogger said he would appeal, denouncing the ruling as the result of an “unfair, politically charged trial.”
In the ruling on the blogger, the court said Druking’s online rigging was considerably helpful in swaying public sentiment ahead of the 2017 presidential election.
The sticking point was whether Gov. Kim had orchestrated or condoned the blogger’s use of illegal automated software King Crab to manipulate comments on online news articles.
Kim Dong-won was accused of fabricating some 1.1 million comments on 75,000 news articles on internet portal Naver between November 2016 and February 2018 to help the then-main opposition Democratic Party of Korea and its presidential hopeful Moon. In return, the blogger wanted to place his acquaintance as a consul general in Japan.
The special counsel suspected that Druking introduced the computer program to Gov. Kim when he visited Druking’s team in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, in November 2016. The governor approved of the use of the automated software and started to send links to news articles to Druking so that the blogger could fabricate comments in favor of Moon, according to the counsel.
Gov. Kim had said he was unaware of Druking’s opinion rigging or the computer program. He insisted that Druking held a grudge against him after the blogger’s attempt to place his acquaintance in the consul general position failed.
Source : koreaherald