Suspicion raised on ruling liberal party over online comment-rigging scandal

SEOUL, April 16 (UPI) — South Korea’s presidential office has distanced itself from the online comment-rigging scandal surrounding President Moon Jae-in’s liberal Democratic Party.

The so-called Druking scandal, which involved three DP-supporting bloggers allegedly using a computer program to manipulate comments on online articles, raised suspicion that the party’s lawmakers, including a confidante of Moon, were aware of such activities.

There are also suspicions that one of bloggers, under the alias Druking, had approached members of Moon Jae-in’s presidential campaign staff last year,

A senior presidential official told reporters Monday that the top office wants to “draw the line” on investigating such claims, saying it should be the DP that launches a probe on the matter, KBS reported.

He said the presidential office would only investigate irregularities that were allegedly committed by incumbent officials after the new administration was voted in.

The liberal party has, since, expelled two of the alleged offenders, calling their activities anti-democratic, and saying an investigation is needed to look into their motives.

According to Seoul police who detained the three members, they claimed to have bumped up the number of “likes” and “agrees” on online comments that were critical of the government on news articles, to make it seem as though conservatives were trying to distort public opinion.

DP chairwoman Choo Mi-ae insisted the DP is also a victim of the affair, warning that the opposition bloc shouldn’t use the scandal to launch a political offensive, Yonhap reported.

However, opposition lawmakers reacted strongly to the case, questioning whether the liberal party had been aware of or even involved in the rigging activities.

Main opposition Liberty Korea Party called for a special investigation over the matter and the centrist Bareunmirae Party also stressed the need to verify whether online opinions had been manipulated during the 2017 presidential race.

The minor liberal Party for Democracy and Peace added that the suspicion of the ruling bloc’s awareness of involvement in the rigging must be clarified, and those responsible must be gravely punished.