Ruling camp should apologizeThe Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld lower court rulings sentencing South Gyeongsang Governor Kim Kyung-soo to two years in jail for colluding with Kim Dong-won, better known by his online alias Druking, to manipulate online opinion before and after the 2017 presidential election. The bench was convinced that the governor and Druking had engaged in obstruction of business by “tampering with 1,180,800 online comments” by methodically “sending more than 88.4 million signals” in 2017 to affect the popularity rating of presidential contenders in polls. The justices also regarded the governor’s offer of the post of consul general in Sendai, Japan to Druking as a “reward for his various activities” in the lead-up to the Democratic Party (DP) election victory.
Opinion rigging destroys the foundations of a democracy particularly in elections. We profoundly agree with the court’s judgment that Kim obviously did something a politician should never do. Earlier, another court came down heavily on the National Intelligence Service (NIS) helping a conservative presidential contender win a victory ahead of the 2012 election. Despite some DP lawmakers trying to downplay the online rigging scheme as an act committed on an individual level, the number of ill-intended signals to interfere with approval ratings is more than 200 times bigger than in the case of the NIS. The DP and government should be ashamed of their double standard.
We welcome the highest court’s ruling, however long it took. After suspicions arose in January 2018, the police and the prosecution could not find the truth behind the scheme, which led to the appointment of a special prosecutor. But due to well-orchestrated obstruction by the Blue House and DP of the investigation, the special prosecutor had to wrap up his probe after three months. That’s not all. A judge in the first trial was indicted for corruption after suffering ridiculous attacks from supporters of the liberal administration. It even took 23 months for the appellate court to hand down a verdict on the governor in November last year.
Yet the special prosecutor was unable to get to the bottom of the online opinion rigging case as he was not given enough time to find who really orchestrated it all. That makes us wonder if justice is outweighed by the selective rule of law in this country.
After the final ruling by the Supreme Court, former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, a frontrunner in polls among presidential candidates, attributed it to “fundamental problems with the legitimacy of the sitting power.” As an opposition lawmaker in 2013, Moon Jae-in attacked President Park Geun-hye for unfairly reaping an election triumph.
Moon and the DP must humbly accept the top court’s ruling and stop its endless parade of sophistry and political skills to divert public criticism from themselves. Regrettably on Wednesday, Moon kept a silence and all presidential candidates from the DP expressed disappointment at the ruling.
We hope the Supreme Court’s ruling serves as a stern warning to presidential aspirants to stop resorting to such dirty tricks to win elections.