Manipulation of public opinionThe independent counsel team discovered that the office of President Park Geun-hye’s senior secretary for political affairs orchestrated and funded various avid groups supportive of Park and her administration. The office and other presidential secretaries held unofficial meetings regularly from 2014 to 2016 with corporate and business group officials discussing details for pro-government rallies and budgeting for their activities.
From the findings of the independent counsel, the presidential office had schemed and directed pro-government rallies to influence public opinion. There has been truth behind the suspicions that the presidential office was using extreme right-wing groups for its defense whenever controversial incidents and issues flared up.
The presidential office must have been hyper-sensitive about criticism from the way it drew up a blacklist of figures critical of Park and orchestrated rallies in support of the government. Instead of doing its job of arranging channels for the president and politicians to keep up communication, the office of political affairs had been busy organizing and directing pro-government rallies.
More outrageously, the presidential office had used 5 billion won ($4.3 million) the Federation of Korean Industries had donated as social contribution as well as special donations worth 7 billion won from top chaebol groups Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, and LG to fund these questionable groups and their activities. The office has used corporate donations to society to fund its propaganda groups. The senior presidential secretariat office clearly had no conscience and respect for law and ethics. It existed only to please the president.
Manipulating public opinion is unlawful abuse of power. The state prosecution must delve into the issue upon receiving the investigation findings from the independent counsel. Its investigation should focus on building evidence against former chief of staff Kim Ki-choon suspected to have spearheaded the propaganda campaign based on corporate donations. The presidential office must confess its grave offense of attempting to tamper with public opinion if it retains the least respect for the people.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 1, Page 26
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