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Get to the bottom of the case

May 17,2018
The bipartisan consensus to launch an independent counsel probe into the alleged online opinion rigging campaign involving a power blogger called Druking and his group to back President Moon Jae-in raises questions if the special investigation can get to the bottom of the case.

The ruling and opposition parties agreed on the scope and ways to organize a special counsel team. The special act was billed as a fact-finding counsel on illicit internet opinion manipulation by the Druking-led organization. The bill, however, fell short of including Democratic Party (DP) Rep. Kim Kyoung-soo although he is at the center of the connection to the DP campaign and the online opinion schemers.

The scope was kept open so that the special probe can address various suspicions uncovered during the investigation. But it does not specifically target the events leading up to the May 9, 2017, presidential election. Police discovered that the Druking organization had been active since October 2016, when the public movement to impeach former President Park Geun-hye was brewing.

The counsel activities also fail to target questionable police and prosecutorial investigation procedures. The law enforcement authority had been under fire for being indecisive in investigations so as not to upset the governing power.

Organizing an independent counsel is also concerning. Under the agreement, the Korean Bar Association would recommend four candidates for the special prosecutor and three opposition parties would shortlist them to two, among whom the president would name the finalist. But the bar association can hardly be depended on to name a neutral and dedicated candidate.

The special investigation bill has been hastily agreed to largely because the ruling party had been reluctant to tackle the case that involves a key aide to the president and could possibly stain the president. But the parties must address the loopholes and package an act before it is put to vote on May 18.

The online public opinion rigging is a case that can undermine the democratic principles of the country. We must not come to a wasteful conclusion on the case no matter what. The mistakes of the past must not be repeated.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 16, Page 30