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S. Korea National Intelligence Service Agent's Suspected Activity During Presidential Race

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Message Hyun Song

(Article changed on January 30, 2013 at 18:45)

(Article changed on January 30, 2013 at 18:44)

(Article changed on January 30, 2013 at 16:29)

In S. Korea, the election is called the flower of democracy, since it's a chance for citizens to choose the direction that the country will head in the future. Hence, fairness in the election is essential to accurately represent public opinion. On Dec. 11, 2012, just eight days before the election, a report was received by police that a suspect was publishing comments on a website that denounced Jae-In Moon, the presidential candidate for the opposing Democratic party.

The police officers at the Suseo Police Station and officials at the National Election Committee in Seoul were quickly dispatched to investigate this report. The suspect whose last name is known as Kim was officially identified as a National Intelligence Service (NIS) employee. When the police asked Kim to turn in all of her personal computers for investigation, she denied all claims and refused to surrender her computers without a proper warrant. It was only after two days that Kim submitted her laptop and the desktop computers at her home to police.

Initially police announced that it would take up to one week to analyze Kim's computers. This event was one of the hot topics during the last presidential debate between Guen-hye Park (the current President-elected) from the ruling party and Jae-In Moon. The debate was broadcasted by major media channels KBS-MBC-SBS on Dec. 16, 2012, just 3 days before election. Unexpected captioning appeared on the TV screen just after the final round of the debate: the police had found around 40 IDs and nicknames on Kim's computers, but didn't find any evidence to support her involvement in the negative comments that appeared on the website. However, the website's server should have been properly investigated as well. The preliminary report of the police was premature since only Kim's personal computers were analyzed.

On January 3, 2013, fifteen days after the election, police officially announced that Kim had created 16 IDs, and expressed her "recommendation" or "disapproval" 288 times on one progressive website from Aug. 2012 to Dec. 2012. Kim's activity on this website showed certain trends: agreement with writings that supported Park and disagreements with writings that supported Moon, for a total of 99 writings. Kim claimed that her acts were simply personal expressions of her opinions, however, her assertion is absolutely unreasonable, since her activities were conducted during work hours for months. By January 25, 2013, police had investigated Kim three times.

Last week NIS sued Chang-won Pyo, an ex-professor at the Korean National Police University, for defamation of NIS saying his assertion gave negative impression of NIS. Some lawyers insist that Pyo should not be charged with the above mentioned defamation. Many Koreans living in Korea and overseas are asking the National Assembly to investigate this case through parliamentary inspection and are requesting a hearing to determine whether or not the NIS unfairly influenced the presidential election.

 

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Hyun Song is a computational biophysicsist.
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