South Gyeongsang Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo is to be questioned Monday over his alleged collusion with a blogger who is standing trial over a political opinion-rigging scheme.
The independent counsel team led by special prosecutor Huh Ik-bum is expected to grill Kim at its office in Seoul from 9:30 a.m. The special investigators believe the former lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea could be an accomplice of Kim Dong-won, the blogger nicknamed “Druking,” in the online opinion-rigging case.
South Gyeongsang Provincial Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo (Yonhap)
Kim Dong-won is suspected of using illegal software to conduct a political campaign to influence public opinion, and meddling in political affairs using his ties with lawmakers.
The South Gyeongsang governor is also suspected of violating the election law, allegedly asking Druking for help for the June 13 local elections, in which he was elected the provincial governor. The governor is accused of promising Kim Dong-won a consular representative position in Japan for his help.
While admitting he had met Druking a couple of times, Kim Kyoung-soo has been flatly denying the allegations. He has been claiming that instant messages about the illegal campaign, revealed by prosecutors, were unilaterally sent by Druking and that he is innocent. He is reportedly staying in Seoul to prepare for Monday’s questioning.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party on Sunday criticized Kim and called for a thorough investigation.
“For some reason, the Democratic Party is attacking the independent counsel for investigating Gov. Kim. The more the party pressures the prosecutors, it only becomes more evident that Gov. Kim is an accomplice,” Yoon Young-seok, the conservative opposition party’s chief spokesman, said in a statement.
It also demanded the extension of the independent counsel’s probe, which is expected to end on Aug. 25.
On the same day, seven-term lawmaker Lee hae-chan of the Democratic Party said he believes that Gov. Kim is innocent. Lee has close ties with President Moon Jae-in.
“I have seen and worked with Gov. Kim for a long time. He is a politician who works with an honest and kind mind,” Lee said in a Facebook post. “The independent counsel should focus on finding the truth and should not get involved in creating political conflict.”
On Thursday, investigators searched Gov. Kim’s home and office in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province. They were also sent to the National Assembly to take the computer used by the governor while he served as a lawmaker of the ruling party.
By Jo He-rim (email@example.com