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Counsel picked for Druking case

June 08,2018
Huh Ik-bum
President Moon Jae-in appointed a special counsel on Thursday to investigate an opinion rigging scandal involving one of his confidants.

The president named Huh Ik-bum, a former prosecutor, to lead an independent counsel team investigating the case, the Blue House said. The appointment came three days after opposition parties named Huh as one of two candidates for the position.

“President Moon will present Huh with a certificate of appointment on Friday,” Kim Eui-kyeom, the Blue House press secretary, said during a briefing.

The National Assembly passed a bill last month to appoint an independent counsel to investigate allegations that a blogger, who goes by the name Druking, manipulated online comments to generate public opinion favorable to the president and his party.

No link between the president and the suspect has been established, but the suspect claims to have been instructed to rig online opinions by a former Democratic Party lawmaker and close confidant of Moon, Kim Kyoung-soo, who is now running for governor of South Gyeongsang.

Kim has admitted to having met the blogger on several occasions, but has denied any prior knowledge of opinion rigging attempts.

The appointment of the independent counsel comes despite an ongoing investigation by the prosecution. Opposition parties claimed that prosecutors may not have the will to investigate this politically sensitive scandal.

The independent counsel team now has up to 90 days to investigate the case. Rival parties in the National Assembly agreed to allow up to 80 people, including 13 incumbent state prosecutors, to be on the team.

The Blue House press secretary said Huh’s investigation would be limited to allegations involving Druking as stipulated in the National Assembly’s bill.