On April 15, it was confirmed that Kim (48), who was arrested for manipulating online public opinion criticizing the Moon Jae-in government, asked a Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker for the consul general position in Osaka after the presidential election. Kim is a famous critic who has been active online under the name, D-ruking, and had shown a pro-Moon Jae-in tendency.
This incident triggered controversy after it was revealed that Kim was a member of the party and that he had secretly been in contact with Kim Kyoung-soo, a Democratic Party lawmaker, via the messenger, Telegram.
■ D-ruking, a Pro-Ruling Party Critic
After a Cheong Wa Dae petition requesting an investigation of the person or persons behind alleged manipulation of online comments and the distribution of fake news, Naver asked the Bundang Police Station in Gyeonggi-do to investigate the case in January. The investigation was launched after the Democratic Party of Korea submitted a report to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency claiming, "The method is very similar to the ways of the online comment unit at the National Intelligence Service," on January 31.
Among the three members of the Democratic Party arrested for manipulating online comments, Kim is a well-known blogger widely known as "D-ruking" online. The number of visitors who have visited his blog, The Information Warehouse of D-ruking, reached over 9.8 million. His blog was selected as a "power blog" in the current affairs, humanities, and economy field by Naver for two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010. Kim has publicly supported former President Roh Moo-hyun since the 2000s and is also known as a pro-Roh Moo-hyun, pro-Moon Jae-in critic. He openly supported President Moon ahead of the presidential election last year, and in the presidential election in 2012, he claimed that the presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo was a "resurrection of MB (former President Lee Myung-bak)."
Using his online popularity, Kim started an online group called a "Group for Economic Coevolution" in 2014, gathered members, and invited famous politicians for lectures offline in addition to online activities, displaying his influence. In a post written when he started the online group, he wrote, "Gathering the enlightened citizens, and not just stopping at that, but organizing these citizens comes first." He turned this private group into a public group and asked members to entrust him with the voting rights of ten shares each to support a campaign for minority shareholders.
■ Kim Went Awry When He Failed to Receive "His Share" in the New Government
Based on common sense, it is difficult to understand how Kim, who referred to himself as a Moon Jae-in supporter, tried to manipulate public opinion by expressing his "support" for comments criticizing the Moon Jae-in government. When questioned by the police, Kim argued, "I was testing a manipulation program disguising it as a scheme by the conservatives."
However, a key Democratic Party official said in a phone conversation with the Kyunghyang Shinmun, "D-ruking demanded a position in an overseas diplomatic mission. He asked to be appointed the consul general of Osaka, but was denied the request." In other words, Kim turned to oppose Moon Jae-in and committed the crime, after he failed to receive a "reward" for his support of the candidate in the last presidential election after the launch of the new government.
In fact, on the Naver page displaying the Kyunghyang Shinmun interview of lawmaker Kim Kyoung-soo on February 23, we confirmed a concentration of comments such as "Kim Kyoung-soo Osaka," and "You had better do well. I am watching." This day, Lee Jae-myung, the mayor of Seongnam said, "I completely agree with lawmaker Kim Kyoung-soo's statement that he (D-ruking) seems to have sought revenge when the government refused his solicitation," and argued that D-ruking also tried to sabotage Lee.
One member of the Democratic Party familiar with the situation among pro-Roh supporters said, "D-ruking was a person who tried to sell himself in politics based on his pro-Roh background. He then referred to himself as a 'stock expert' and the number of his followers grew online." Another ruling party member said, "He tried to access various areas in the political circle using his popularity. I doubt the investigation will find any financial transactions (with politicians). Rumor had it that he was not of good quality, so who would have tried to do anything with him?"
■ Police, "Analyzing Text Messages on Telegram"
The police are focusing on analyzing the evidence confiscated from Kim's office. An official from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said, "We are analyzing various materials seized from Kim's office in Paju, Gyeonggi-do. We are focusing our investigation on identifying the backdrop of the incident, any accomplices, and additional crimes." In particular, the police secured text messages and as well as messages via Telegram, an online messenger, that Kim sent to lawmaker Kim and are investigating to see if the lawmaker was involved in the latest incident.
The police are also checking to see if there were more people involved in the criminal act, in addition to the three, including D-ruking, arrested. The police are investigating to see if these men also attempted to manipulate public opinion on other articles.
Some voiced suspicions of a conspiracy aimed at the local elections. Word has it that D-ruking approached many Democratic Party lawmakers and that Kim Kyoung-soo was not alone. And people argue that lawmaker Kim's involvement was highlighted because of his bid for the governor of Gyeongsangnam-do. A police official said, "We believe there are more accomplices. However, since the number can increase or decrease according to the investigation of the seized items, at present, we cannot specify the number of accomplices."