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Special counsel hones in on Gov. Kim with second summons in opinion rigging probe

All Headlines 15:31 August 08, 2018

SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- Special prosecutors will question South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo for a second time this week in a probe into a massive online opinion rigging, officials said Wednesday.

Kim has been summoned to appear for a 9:30 a.m. interrogation Thursday, special investigation team officials said. The new summons is a follow-up to questioning on Monday.

The governor is suspected of involvement in the manipulation of Internet news comments led by an influential blogger, Kim Dong-won, who's better known by his nickname Druking.

Prosecutors believe Kim frequently communicated with Druking and his crew to carry out the scheme to rig the number of likes in news articles to benefit the ruling Democratic Party in late 2016, when DP was the main opposition.

Kim is also accused of asking the Druking team to carry out a similar operation to sway the public opinion in the DP's favor ahead of the June local elections, and in return, promising to give a lawyer friend of Druking, surnamed Doh, a post at an overseas diplomatic mission.

Kim, who just won his governorship in the elections, has flatly denied the allegations.

The probe has become a hot button issue as Kim is known for his close ties with President Moon Jae-in. The case also potentially implicates Song In-bae and Baek Won-woo, two incumbent presidential officials who are suspected of involvement in the scheme.

It remains to be seen whether the special prosecution will compel Kim with any crucial evidence it didn't reveal during Monday's questioning. The special counsel, led by Huh Ik-bum, was launched in June upon the passage of a special bill at the parliament and has about 17 more days before its official 60-day term expires.

The lawyer, Doh, was arraigned by a court earlier in the day over his arrest warrant requested by the special prosecution. The court is expected to make a decision as early as late Wednesday.

This photo, filed Aug. 7, 2018, shows South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo leaving the special counsel's office in Gangnam, southern Seoul, after undergoing questioning over his alleged involvement in Druking's opinion rigging scheme. (Yonhap)


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