NATIONAL

[Newsmaker] Who is ‘Druking’ -- power blogger behind online rigging scandal?

By Claire Lee
  • Published : Apr 18, 2018 - 16:30
  • Updated : Apr 19, 2018 - 11:30

The ongoing online opinion rigging scandal involving ex-members of the ruling Democratic Party has the public curious about the now-indicted power blogger at the center of the controversy, who is suspected of working as a “political broker” in the online space for the party before President Moon Jae-in came into office last year.

The blogger, surnamed Kim, has been a popular figure in the local online space. With the nickname “Druking,” Kim, 48, operated a liberal-leaning current affairs blog, titled “Druking’s Data Storehouse,” launched in 2009. The blog has been visited by almost 10 million people as of Wednesday, and was awarded as the best social affairs and economics blog by the country’s dominant search engine and portal, Naver, in 2009 and 2010.

An eloquent writer with many fans and followers, Kim openly supported Moon during the election campaign last year. He ran a YouTube channel and produced podcasts in support of Moon, one of which was titled “Inie, you should do everything that you want.” ”Inie“ is a nickname for Moon among his supporters.

The once-Moon supporter has now been indicted for allegedly using computer software that artificially ramps up the number of clicks on “agree” -- the local search engine Naver’s equivalent of Facebook’s “Like” -- for comments on Naver. The allegations showed that Kim no longer supports Moon, and allegedly abused his influence in the cyberspace to discredit the ruling Democratic Party and the Moon administration. 


A power blogger, nick-named “Druking,” have allegedly and deliberately made people believe that certain comments -- those critical of the current Moon Jae-in administration -- were the most popular opinions on cyberspace. (123RF)

The power blogger is accused of ramping up the number of clicks on such “agree”s for two specific comments posted on news stories carried by Naver. The comments are said to have been critical of the Moon administration’s decision to form a South-North joint women’s hockey team for the PyeongChang Winter Games back in February.

The blogger clearly knew how to take advantage of Naver’s operational system; the portal automatically puts the comments that get the most “agree” responses at the top of the comment section for each news story, thereby giving them the most exposure.

Druking reportedly turned his back on the ruling party, allegedly after the presidential office refused his personnel appointment requests. On Monday, Rep. Kim Kyoung-soo of the Democratic Party said he was first approached by Druking last year before the May presidential election. He claimed that the power blogger later demanded the consul-general post in Osaka, Japan, for an acquaintance in return of his cyberspace activities for Moon during the presidential election campaign.

Rep. Kim is known as one of Moon‘s most trusted aides.

Since the scandal broke, the opposition parties have been calling for a special probe into Druking’s possibly illegal involvement in Moons’ election campaign last year.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party submitted a bill to launch a special counsel probe into the scandal, comparing the case with the infamous influence-peddling scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil, which led to Park’s impeachment.

The power blogger is known to have been well-connected in the world of liberal politics. He ran an offline organization for economic justice starting 2014, attracting some 2,400 members.

In January, the group organized a public lecture by the now-disgraced former South Chungcheong governor An Hee-jung at a university in Seoul. An, who has stepped down from his post after being accused of sexual assault, was seen as the ruling Democratic Party’s next presidential candidate. 

Roh Hoe-chan, the floor leader of the minor progressive Justice Party, is among the politicians who have lectured in events organized by Druking’s organization.

The politicians who have participated in such events have reportedly said they were unaware that Druking was the head of 2,400-member economic justice organization.

Druking is said to have worked at a conglomerate involved in the construction business before establishing his name in cyberspace in the 2000s.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)