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South Gyeongsang Province governor given 2-year prison term by appellate court in opinion rigging case

All News 15:21 November 06, 2020

SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Yonhap) -- An appeals court on Friday sentenced South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo, a close confidant of President Moon Jae-in, to two years in prison for conspiring to manipulate online opinions in favor of Moon ahead of the 2017 presidential election.

The Seoul High Court found Kim guilty of participating in the online opinion rigging scheme, affirming the guilty verdict handed down to him by a district court in January last year.

It, however, acquitted him of his previous conviction in connection with the secret offer of a consul general post in Sendai, Japan, for an associate of a blogger named Druking, saying that the alleged offense was not clear enough.

Kim avoided imprisonment as the court did not revoke his bail, citing the acquittal. He has been out of bail since April last year.

South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo talks to reporters on his way to attend his appeals trial at the Seoul High Court on Nov. 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

In January last year, the Seoul Central District Court sentenced him to two years in prison for colluding with Kim Dong-won, a blogger better known by his online pseudonym Druking, to carry out the illicit cyber operation.

The court also added another 10 months in prison for Kim for violating the Public Official Election Act, with a stay of execution of two years, in connection with the job offer.

Consistent with the lower court, the appeals court also concluded that Kim attended a presentation of a computer program, which was used for the cyber operation, at the blogger's office in November 2016, incriminating evidence to prove the collusion between the two.

The 52-year-old politician was indicted in August 2018 for conspiring with the political blogger to artificially jack up the number of "likes" on political comments online to benefit Moon in the presidential poll.

Moon won the snap election in May 2017, which came after his predecessor, Park Geun-hye, was ousted from office by the Constitutional Court over a corruption scandal.

South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo (L) and President Moon Jae-in pledge allegiance to the national flag in an industrial event in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Sept. 17, 2020. (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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