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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Aug. 6)

All News 06:56 August 06, 2018

Probe into Moon's aide
Governor should tell truth about ties with blogger

South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Kyoung-soo faces questioning today by the independent counsel investigating an online opinion rigging scandal involving the blogger "Druking," an expert in manipulating internet comments. The special prosecutors suspect that Kim conspired with Druking to sway public opinion during elections.

The aide to President Moon Jae-in has denied allegations that he had close ties to Druking, describing him as "only one of many people who wanted to support" Moon. Kim has claimed that any contact with Druking was no more than a customary show of appreciation for supporters.

Kim has also described Druking as someone who demanded excessive favors in exchange for his "contribution" to Moon's campaign, but turned hostile toward the administration after his requests were turned down. But fresh allegations suggest that there is more to the relationship than Kim has admitted.

Last week, special prosecutors raided his office in Changwon as part of the investigation into the scandal. The raid came as the media reported that Kim, a former lawmaker elected to his current post in local elections in June, had offered a diplomatic post to Druking in exchange for help in the elections.

This is different from what Kim said in April when he admitted that Druking had demanded the appointment of an acquaintance of his to the consul general post in Osaka, Japan. The governor said that he had delivered Druking's request to Cheong Wa Dae, which admitted that civil affairs secretary Baek Won-woo met the recommended person.

Kim also faces allegations that he had communicated with Druking closely over election pledges and policy suggestions using an encrypted messaging app. According to some of the messages, Kim had sought help from Druking over reform measures for Korea's chaebol in January 2017.

According to the messages, Kim and Druking met in February 2017 over plans to develop the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, which was shut down during the previous Park Geun-hye administration. Druking delivered relevant documents to Kim over the app and a few days after they were delivered to Kim, Moon posted similar content on his Facebook page.

Kim's attitude since the scandal first broke in April has been disappointing. He has failed to explain clearly his relations with Druking and has blamed the media. He also said the probe was the last thing on his mind, and that he could only think about his job as governor of South Gyeongsang Province. This does not seem to be a responsible attitude considering the gravity of the case.

Already, many people who supported Moon in the presidential election feel somewhat betrayed that one of his closest aides has been summoned as a suspect in such a scandal. During questioning, Kim should give a truthful account of his history with Druking.


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