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Prosecutors: South Korean governor colluded in opinion-rigging

By Wooyoung Lee
Prosecutors: South Korean governor colluded in opinion-rigging
Independent Counsel Huh Ik-bum speaks at a news briefing at his office in Seoul on July 20. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL Aug. 28 (UPI) -- South Korean prosecutors say a close aide to President Moon Jae-in colluded with a group of bloggers to influence public opinion in favor of Moon and his political party ahead of the presidential election last year.

A special independent prosecution team revealed on Monday that a group of bloggers engaged in an opinion-rigging scheme to manipulate public opinion and South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Kyung-soo was part of it.

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The team's 60-day investigation found that the bloggers clicked likes or dislikes to some 1.4 million online comments in 81,000 news articles, using an automatic clicker software.

The opinion-rigging campaign continued from December 2016 to February this year, in an attempt to influence public opinion in favor of the president and his political party, according to prosecutor Huh Ik-beom, in a briefing on a 60-day investigation on the scandal.

Prosecutors found that Kim was introduced to the head blogger Kim Dong-won, nicknamed Druking, in June 2016 and involved in the beginning stage of developing an automatic clicker software.

The investigation also found that Kim offered the head blogger a consulate-general position at Consulate General of Korea in Sendai, Japan.

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Kim has denied his involvement in the opinion-rigging scheme.

The blogger and his collaborators have been indicted and are facing trials. Prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for Kim while the court rejected it.

The next trial is scheduled for next month.

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