Thorough investigation is needed

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Thorough investigation is needed

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) has found itself in hot water after partisan party members were accused of trying to influence online opinion through automated software. Some media reports connected DP Rep. Kim Kyoung-soo to the individuals under investigation for using techniques to give “likes” or “sympathy” reactions to negative comments about the government to put the blame on conservatives. The police secured exchanges between the suspects and Kim, but did not investigate further and referred the case to the prosecution. Why the police did not press on with the suspicion is another matter that must be explained.

Kim held a press conference to deny the reports and vowed to take defamation suits against media organizations reporting his name. He said the people under questioning had contacted him to volunteer in Moon Jae-in’s election campaign. However, he fell short of elaborating what kind of conversation he had with them and how specifically they had proposed to contribute to the campaign.

Kim claimed the suspects made “excessive” demands and complained when they were rejected. He did not explain what they were, but “excessive” could mean the actions involved could have been beyond reason or even laws.

For instance, a leading suspect demanded the position of consul general in Osaka in return for their online posts. Kim had been one of the closest aides to former President Roh Moo-hyun and belongs to the inner circle of the Moon Jae-in government. If he is as innocent as he claims, he should thoroughly explain his involvement.

The three arrested suspects have attempted to sway public opinions by using a software program enabling a series of clicks and keyboard strokes on a timed interval to reinforce negative opinions on the Moon Jae-in administration’s engagement towards North Korea during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. But they turned out to have been avid online campaigners for Moon in the lead-up to the snap presidential election in May. One suspect under the pen name “Dru King” had posted writings defending presidents Roh and Moon for nearly a decade.

The case has been referred to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. If the prosecution attempts to close the case as soon as possible, a special counsel team may have to be called upon. To prevent unnecessary noise and controversy, the prosecution must be as thorough with the case as it had been with its probe into the online rigging campaign by the National Intelligence Service.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 16, Page 30
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