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Time to come forward

Apr 21,2018
Ruling Democratic Party Rep. Kim Kyoung-soo, who is in hot water due to his connection with an organized online opinion manipulation scandal, declared his bid for the South Gyeongsang gubernatorial post in the upcoming local elections. At a press conference, he lambasted the accusations against him. He said he was open to any form of investigation, even from a special counsel if necessary, so that his name would be entirely cleared.

With so many different accounts and explanations, a thorough and speedy probe is needed. But the Blue House made it clear that it won’t agree to a special independent investigation as demanded by the opposition.

But based on circumstantial evidence, the scandal involving a blogger who went by the alias Druking could build up to challenge the legitimacy of 2017 presidential election if what he claims is true about his group conducting an organized online scheme to sway opinion in favor of Moon. Even if the group acted alone and voluntarily, the people concerned would have broken election and public duty laws. The question is how the scheme was organized. The group’s source of funding could hold the answer.

From the revelations so far, the relationship between the lawmaker and suspect does not seem negligible as claimed by the former campaign spokesman for Moon. Kim insists that the suspect had been among many supporters of the candidate. But the fact that he is an avid fan does not explain how he could bluntly threaten a key confidant of the president, make excessive demands and force a presidential secretary to meet with a figure he had recommended for a senior public post.

Photos and video clips showed the first lady had dropped by a group meeting led by the online activist close to the election day. The lawmaker is in the same photograph. This kind of high-profile event could not have been possible for only casual supporters. Apart from Kim, the suspect is believed to have been in contact with the Blue House and the ruling party.

Kim and the Blue House accuse the blogger of abusing his power. If they are the victims, why had they indulged in his illicit demands and threats? Kim should be honest. When asked if he would accept the formation of a special counsel investigation, he said it was up to the ruling party.

The police did not push ahead with the investigation, even upon discovering the connection to the lawmaker. Before the case demands special investigation, Kim should frankly speak on the allegations against him — exactly what his relationship with the suspect had been, what exactly his demands had been and what the two had discussed through the encrypted chat platform Telegram.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 20, Page 30