North Korea meddled in 2012 election, NIS claims

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North Korea meddled in 2012 election, NIS claims

North Korea’s intelligence and propaganda officials intervened in last year’s legislative and presidential elections in the South by using social networking services, the National Intelligence Service said Monday.

According to a report that the nation’s main intelligence agency submitted to the head of the National Intelligence Committee, the North made at least 14,000 postings through its cyber operations base in China.

The United Front Department of the North’s Workers’ Party led the operation in Shenyang, China, it said.

The report, which was submitted to Representative Suh Sang-kee of the Saenuri Party, said 4,400 postings were made on Twitter, while 4,500 postings were made on YouTube and an additional 3,000 on Facebook. The North also used Yahoo’s online photo sharing site Flickr to post 2,100 photos.

The NIS said North Korea used its three official Twitter accounts, including the one from Uriminzokkiri, its propaganda Web site. Various rumors intended to condemn the South Korean government and create political splits in the South were posted to influence the legislative and presidential elections, the service said.

According to the report, the North used Uriminzokkiri 3,439 times to make such postings last year to spread anti-government messages concerning South Korea. Another account, Minjok Tongshin, was used 989 times, while the Joseon Minjujuui account was used 1,262 times.

Among the Uriminzokkiri postings, 30 were supportive of the opposition parties and their candidates, while 167 postings denounced the ruling Saenuri Party and Park Geun-hye, its presidential candidate at the time.

The NIS said that the North uses about 300 social network accounts for its cyberwarfare. “The North could have used the ‘for-your-eyes-only’ message-sending function on Twitter to send orders to North Korea sympathizers in the South,” the agency claimed in the report.

The intelligence agency said there is no technology in the South to block the North’s propaganda use on Twitter, and that the South must engage in a strong psychological operation to effectively counter Pyongyang’s cyber campaigns.

Citing the report, Representative Suh defended the National Intelligence Service amid the latest string of criticisms that it meddled in last year’s presidential election by posting Internet messages supporting Park and disparaging her rivals.

“It is confirmed that the North actively used social network services to criticize the ruling party and its candidate, and influenced the presidential election,” Suh said. “The National Intelligence Service had no choice but to counter such moves.”

The main opposition Democratic Party, however, condemned Suh’s argument. “It is nonsense for him to argue that the NIS deserved to intervene in the presidential election because the North had done so,” Representative Kim Hyun said.

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