Top court confirms opinion rigging conviction of Gov. Kim Kyung-soo

Jul 22, 2021, 09:30 am

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South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyung-soo speaks to reporters at the Gyeongnam Prvincial Office on July 21, 2021./ Source: Yonhap

AsiaToday reporter Heo Kyung-joon

The top court upheld the opinion rigging conviction of South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Kyung-soo on Wednesday, wrapping up the four-year-long case. 

Upon the top court’s decision, Kim will be imprisoned again. He was released on bail in April 2019 after serving 77 days following the first court ruling. He is expected to be jailed in Changwon Prison a couple of days after going through relevant procedures. Observers say Kim’s political career has virtually ended due to his sentence as he will be banned from running from public office for the next seven years under the relevant law. 

The Supreme Court maintained the verdict by the appeals court in November that Kim colluded with a team of online bloggers, including Kim Dong-won, widely known as Druking, to illegally generate favorable opinions about President Moon Jae-in ahead of the 2017 presidential election. “Between Gov. Kim and Druking, there is a will of co-processing with respect to the crime of manipulating the ranking of comments using the King Crab macro program. And since Kim has functional dominance through essential contribution, there was no fault in the original trial’s conviction that he was guilty of taking part in the crime as a co-conspirator,” the court said.  

However, the court found him not guilty of violating the election law by offering a consul general post in Japan to an associate of Druking. 

“Relating to the election campaign in future elections, even if a candidate who is the object of the election is not specified at the time of providing the profit, if the profit is provided in connection with the election campaign for a candidate to be specified in the future, a crime of violating the Public Official Election Act is established,” the court said. “At the time of providing benefits, it is not necessary for a specific candidate to exist. However, there is an error of misunderstanding the jurisprudence of the interpretation of ‘in relation to the election campaign’ in the judgement of the appeals court.”

However, the court said, “There is nothing wrong with the lower court’s judgment that there is insufficient evidence that the declaration of interest was made in relation to local elections, and even if there is a misunderstanding of the jurisprudence regarding the interpretation of ‘in relation to the election campaign,’ there is no evidence of a crime. In the absence of proof, there is no other choice but to acuquit the person, so it has no effect on the verdict.”

Previously, both the first and second trials acknowledged the fact that Gov. Kim attended a demonstration of the automated software King Crab in November 2016 to listen to the explanation about the software when he visited Druking’s team in Paju, and that he either agreed to or approved the development and operation of the software.

While the first trial found Kim guilty of both the charges of obstructing business of a portal site and violating the election law, the appeals court found him guilty of obstructing business but not found him guilty of violating the election law. 

#Kim Kyung-soo #Druking #top court #opinion rigging 
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