Seoul lawmaker joins election amid online comment-rigging scandal

Seoul lawmaker joins election amid online comment-rigging scandal

SEOUL, April 19 (UPI) — South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party lawmaker Kim Kyoung-soo has decided to press head with his bid for the local election, despite allegations that he was involved in online comment-rigging.

He shot down the speculations Thursday, as he officially announced he would run for South Gyeongsang Province Governor, saying he would “confidently” cooperate with any investigations to uncover the truth, News 1 reported.

The announcement came after he cancelled his press conference scheduled earlier in the day, which had led to speculation that he would drop out the electoral race.

Kim has been accused of contacting a blogger called Druking, who has been indicted over manipulating online comments on news stories to discredit the conservatives.

Druking and two other bloggers allegedly used a computer program in January to bump up the number of “likes” or “agrees” on comments critical of the Moon administration, to make it seem as though right-wing forces were attempting to manipulate public opinion.

Kim has admitted the blogger contacted him since 2016 and requested various favors, but said he was not involved in the comment-rigging scandal. He suggested the bloggers had boosted the number of “likes” on posts criticizing the liberal government, after he turned down Druking’s excessive requests.

However, opposition parties have called for a special investigation into the case, raising suspicion that Druking may have tampered with online contents in the lead up to the presidential election last year.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party proposed a bill to conduct an independent counsel probe into the case, which would involve a special prosecutor. The centrist Bareunmirae Party also called for a thorough investigation.

Still, the presidential office has defended Kim, saying that it will not consider an independent counsel investigation, saying that the government and the ruling party are also victims of the scandal, Yonhap reported.

Kim is a close confidante of President Moon Jae-in, and served as the late former President Roh Moo-hyun’s secretary.