Opening Pandora’s boxOne piece of evidence after another appears to suggest that the private group of people led by a blogger named Druking worked as de facto supporters for the then-opposition Democratic Party in the last presidential election. Under the Public Official Election Act, community or private groups are banned from election campaigning. If political parties or election camps employ such private organizations in their campaigning, they are breaking the law.
Lecture materials belonging to former South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung, who ran for president against Moon Jae-in, introduced the group as online activists for the party. The organization claimed it had run a smear operation against the conservative government from September 2016. Their 300 to 400 daily posts reached more than 700 during the presidential campaign period. Members took turns keeping watch around the clock, it said.
In the document, the body introduced its “defensive” tactic by making it a principle to not outright criticize the opponent. It turned offensive only once when Ahn Cheol-soo’s approval rating went up to 37 percent. It explained it led a negative campaign to paint Ahn as an avatar of businessman-turned-president Lee Myung-bak for five days. During the primary, the group’s goal was to put An Hee-jung in second place.
In fact, Ahn suffered from the image of being a replica of Lee Myung-bak, and former Governor An ascended to stardom and beat Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung to become the second-place candidate after Moon in the primary.
If what they claim is true, they have committed a serious crime against the democracy of this nation by attempting to sway public opinion through manipulation. Their actions cannot be deemed as “innocent political participation” by citizens as the ruling party advocates.
Since Kim and his organization have already admitted to being responsible for the online media campaign, the scandal will have to expand to an investigation into the presidential election. The Blue House and the ruling party will invite bigger controversy if they aim to cover up the case. Law enforcement authorities also must be tough on the case as history shows that some things never go away, no matter how well they are hidden.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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