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(2nd LD) Gov. Kim summoned to appear for questioning next week in opinion rigging scandal

All Headlines 16:51 August 03, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with Kim's remarks in last 4 paras)

SEOUL/GIMHAE, South Korea, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- The special prosecutor's team summoned South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo to appear for questioning Monday about his alleged ties with a power blogger at the center of an opinion rigging scandal, an official said.

Kim was asked to appear as a suspect at the office of special prosecutor Huh Ik-bum at 9:30 a.m. Monday, according to Park Sang-yoong, spokesman for the special counsel team. Kim's lawyer visited the office earlier Friday and coordinated the summons schedule, Park said.

The summons came a day after special investigators raided Kim's office and residence.

The scandal centers on allegations that the power blogger, better known by his nickname Druking, massively manipulated comments on Internet news stories in an effort to sway public opinion on hot-button political issues in favor of the now-ruling Democratic Party.

Kim, a former DP lawmaker who was elected governor in June's elections, allegedly communicated with Druking frequently through untraceable messenger apps.

Special investigators suspect that Kim worked with Druking's crew to artificially jack up the number of likes for Internet comments attached to news articles about the DP, then the opposition bloc, between 2016 and early 2017.

In November 2016, Kim was allegedly invited by the Druking team to see a demonstration of a computer program designed to rig comments and gave them tacit approval to carry out the alleged plan and let them brief him about it regularly.

Kim is also suspected of offering the position of the consulate general in the Japanese city of Osaka to Druking while asking for help in this year's elections.

Kim rejected these allegations and denied any wrongdoing.

"What's important to me right now is not the special investigation, but South Gyeongsang Province," Kim said during a visit to a community center for senior citizens in the city of Gimhae. "The special investigation doesn't take up even 1 percent of my work and thinking."

Kim also complained that the investigation team is leaking unconfirmed things to the press.

"I first called for a special investigation before anybody else and have fully cooperated with a police investigation during the elections and with the raid following the introduction of the special counsel investigation," he said.

"I express serious concern that unconfirmed facts and inconsistent stories are reported as if they are confirmed facts," he said. "In order to clear up this situation, I hope the special prosecutor will summon me as early as possible. I will comply with a summons confidently and will try to fully explain whatever is necessary."

South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo speaks to reporters as he arrives at his office on Aug. 3, 2018. (Yonhap)


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