South Korea’s ruling party members hit with online comment rigging allegations

SEOUL, April 15 (UPI) — South Korea’s opposition lawmakers have called for a thorough investigation on the President Moon Jae-in’s liberal Democratic Party, whose members have allegedly rigged online opinions to discredit the conservatives.

Police said Friday that three DP members, identified by surnames, Kim, Yang and Woo, were detained over suspicions that they used a computer program to ramp up the number of clicks on “like” or “agree” on comments for news stories on online portal Naver, Chosun Ilbo reported.

They allegedly used more than 600 Naver usernames to drive up the counts critical of the incumbent government on articles related to the single women’s ice hockey team made up of South and North Korean athletes for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.

Two of the comments hit more than 40,000 responses to record Naver’s top comment picks.

One of the members testified to Seoul police that they “wanted to test how the conservatives manipulate online comments,” and, “make it seem as though the conservatives had driven up the online opinions,” during their experiment.

South Korean media raised suspicion that DP lawmaker Kim Kyung-soo was involved in the affair.

Kim has strongly denied the allegations, however, admitted that one of the party members in question, had offered to help him last year before making unreasonable demands.
Kim says he rejected the offer which must have caused the party member to attack the government.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party said Kim is only making excuses and called on him to fully disclose his communication with the party member in question.

The conservative party also urged the prosecution to thoroughly look into the case, Yonhap reported.

The minor centrist Bareunmirae Party and liberal Party for Democracy and Peace also called for thorough scrutiny, citing the military and National Intelligence Services’ attempts to sway opinions in favor of the then-incumbent conservative administrations.