at a press conference in the Democratic Party’s room at the National Assembly
By Song Ho-jin, staff reporter
Prosecutors’ request to change the bill of indictment against former National Intelligence Service (NIS) director Won Sei-hoon came attached with 52,689 Twitter messages with political or election-related content from agents of the agency’s psychological warfare team.
The request was made public on Oct. 20 after being filed on Oct. 18 by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office special investigation team, which is currently investigating allegations of systematic interference by the NIS in last December’s presidential election.
The messages in question represent a barrage of Twitter posts made during the election by NIS agents explicitly siding with the ruling Saenuri Party (NFP). In particular, messages advertised the image, policies, and campaign donation bank account information for then-candidate and current President Park Geun-hye; praised her father, former President Park Chung-hee (1962-79); and labeled her opponent, Democratic Party (DP) candidate Moon Jae-in, as pro-North Korea.
National Assembly Legislation and Judiciary Committee members from the opposition DP and the Justice Party held a press conference on Oct. 20 to share results from their analysis of the Twitter messages attached to the change request.
Prosecutors attached the messages as evidence that NIS agents violated the Public Official Election Act by posting tweets “supporting/praising or opposing/slandering a particular party or politician” at Won’s direction between Sept. 1 of last year and the eve of the election on Dec. 18.
The 55,689 Twitter messages outnumber the 1,970 illegal online posts with political content cited by prosecutors in their original indictment of Won back in June by an order of 28.
Won is currently under detention.
According to examples cited by the opposition, NIS agents wrote and distributed a number of tweets portraying Moon as “pro-North Korea.” The candidate was described as “wearing a Pyongyang anklet” and promising to “establish an inter-Korean federation and achieve a ‘red [Communist] reunification]’.” His election camp was described as “traitors who are eager to give the Northern Limit Line [in the West Sea] away to North Korea.”
One agent wrote that former President Kim Dae-jung (1998-2003) “died when his appointed time came, and [successor] Roh Moo-hyun (2003-2008) embarrassed himself by jumping in.” Others retweeted a message saying the ten years of rule by the two presidents were “an opportunity to build an underground party on Pyongyang’s orders and expand their organization.”
In contrast, messages about Park Geun-hye were actively supportive of the candidate.
“A first-class presidential candidate who is definitely prepared,” one said, while another said, “Park Geun-hye is even broad-minded - she has to wrangle with those Commie bastards.”
Another message said, “Park Geun-hye has a friendly smile, Moon Jae-in has startled rabbit eyes, and [independent candidate] Ahn Cheol-soo has an icky snake face.”
Still another praised Park for “using the same air conditioner for 18 years, and making her own basic cosmetics by hand.”
Some messages gave the account number to make donations for Park’s campaign. “This account information will be the force that sends [Park] to an election victory,” one read.
Others praised her father Park Chung-hee.
“My heart races every time I hear that name,” said one.
Park Young-sun, lead of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, said the messages “show that the NIS was essentially Park’s online campaign team during the last presidential election.”
She also said the head prosecutors’ recent decision to relieve Yoon Seok-yeol of his post as head of the special investigation team on the NIS case was a “blatant attempt to interfere with the investigation.”
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