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Kim frequently asked blogger to promote links

Apr 21,2018
Embattled lawmaker Kim Kyoung-soo sent internet links to a powerful blogger from November 2016 through last month asking him to “promote” them, police said Friday.

The blogger, who goes by the ID Druking, was said to have replied that he would “handle” it.

Some of the links were about Moon Jae-in’s presidential candidacy before the May 2017 presidential election.

Police did not explain Friday what Representative Kim of the ruling Democratic Party meant by “promoting” them or how the power blogger handled them. Police said they were planning to summon Kim and his aides for questioning soon.

The latest revelation from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, which is investigating a case of online opinion manipulation by Druking, contradicts a briefing from the agency’s commissioner Lee Ju-min last Monday that claimed communication between the two was mostly one-sided, with the blogger, a 49-year-old surnamed Kim, sending text messages to Kim Kyoung-soo, even as the lawmaker ignored them.

Local media widely interpreted Lee’s remarks as a defense of the lawmaker from charges he participated in the online opinion manipulation on behalf of Moon. The Seoul police chief apologized to the press Friday, saying he learned about Kim Kyoung-soo’s requests to Druking only after the Monday briefing and that he had no intention of covering up anything.

Kim, a confidant of Moon who’s running for the South Gyeongsang governor in elections this June, denied any wrongdoing on Friday during a press conference at the South Gyeongsang provincial government office in Changwon and urged police to summon him quickly for questioning so he could free himself of the accusations.

According to the Seoul police agency on Friday, Kim sent 14 messages to Druking via the mobile app Telegram, 10 of which were links to websites, including online articles. In the four other messages, police quoted Kim as saying, “Please promote” and “Are comments on Naver usually like this?”

One link was about Moon’s press conference schedule with the foreign press, while another led to a YouTube video that favorably illustrated Moon’s personal character and his statecraft.

Druking usually replied that he’ll handle it, police said.

The blogger, who was arrested late last month with two other alleged accomplices, told police that the lawmaker “probably sent [me the link] knowing that the Economic Coevolution Center was running a ‘nice comment campaign’ and assumed that I’d inform my members about the link so they could voluntarily ‘like’ them.” The Economic Coevolution Center is a group Druking said he operated in order to “defend” candidate Moon.

Seoul police said they also found out that Druking and Kim conversed through another encrypted messaging app called Signal. Druking sent the lawmaker 39 messages from January to March 2017, while Kim sent the blogger 16 messages during the same period. Police did not get into the details of what they talked about, but said there were no traces of Kim sending him any links as on Telegram.

For reasons that are still not entirely clear, Druking started using the internet to criticize Moon more recently. Police determined on Thursday that the blogger made 614 likes on six articles criticizing Moon’s decision to field a joint women’s hockey team with North Korea at the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games by using a program through which one is able to input multiple comments or likes for particular comments on news articles on Naver, Korea’s largest portal site.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, CHOI KYU-JIN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]