2018 opinion rigging scandal in South Korea

The 2018 opinion rigging scandal in South Korea is a political scandal that erupted in April 2018 after a group of ardent supporters of the South Korean President Moon Jae-in had been charged with online opinion rigging.[1] The accused suspects were the members of the ruling Democratic Party (DPK).[2] The main perpetrator, as well as the leader of the pro-Moon group, was a well-known power-blogger called "Druking."[1]

2018 opinion rigging scandal in South Korea
DPK members' paper company for public opinion manipulation.jpg
The fake company's office where the perpetrators committed online opinion rigging
Native name 더불어민주당원 댓글 조작 사건
English name2018 opinion rigging scandal in South Korea
Duration2014 – 13 April 2018
LocationPaju, South Korea
Coordinates37°42′46″N 126°41′10″E / 37.712676°N 126.686071°E / 37.712676; 126.686071Coordinates: 37°42′46″N 126°41′10″E / 37.712676°N 126.686071°E / 37.712676; 126.686071

Organized opinion riggingEdit

Druking established a fake company known as the "Neureupnamu (Japanese elm) publishing company" in the city of Paju for organized opinion rigging.[3][4] The accused used a macro program that can generate a barrage of online comments and likes in a few seconds in order to manipulate the public opinion in their favor.[4]


The scandal led to a clash of political parties in South Korea. The Blue House and the ruling Democratic Party insisted that they are also a victim of the scandal.[1] But the opposition parties emphasized that, since President Moon's involvement is suspected, this scandal is linked to the Moon administration's legitimacy.[5] They called for a special prosecutor investigation for scrutiny.[5]

Special prosecutor investigationEdit

A protester criticizes Druking and calls for Moon Jae-in's impeachment at the front of the special prosecutor's office

On 21 May 2018, the National Assembly of South Korea passed a bill to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the scandal.[6]

On 8 June of the same year President Moon appointed former prosecutor and lawyer Huh Ik-beom as special prosecutor.[7]

Justice Party lawmaker and long-time progressive activist Roh Hoe-chan committed suicide on 23 July during the investigation.

Kim Kyung-Soo, the governor of South Gyeongsang Province and a former lawmaker, was summoned by the Special Prosecutor, on 7 August.[8]

The special prosecutor issued a warrant for the arrest of Kim; however, the request was rejected by the Seoul central district court.[9] Prosecutor Huh announced the official end of investigation on 27 August without any extension.[10] The prosecutor announced the conclusion that governor Kim, a lawmaker at that time, was an accomplice to the scandal, and will be under indictment without detention.[9]

A The Minjoo Party spokesperson criticized the special prosecutor, claiming the investigation process depended only on Druking's testimony, without any proper evidence.[11]

Decryption of encrypted filesEdit

In the special prosecutor's investigation of Druking in South Korea, the special prosecutor team tried to decrypt files encrypted by TrueCrypt and succeeded at decrypting some of them.[12][13]

The special prosecutor said the hidden volumes were especially difficult to deal with. He decrypted some of encrypted files by inputting words that the Druking group had possibly use as passwords into passphrases. For instance, the Druking group liked words such as Zi wei dou shu (Purple Star Astrology) and KKM (acronym of 경제적 공진화 모임), so the special prosecutor's team tried to input these words as passphrases or parts of them.[14][15]

After the special prosecutor team decrypted some of the encrypted files, Druking's associates changed their minds about the investigation.[16]

In 2018, the special prosecutor indicted Gyeongnam Province Governor Kim Kyung-soo.

In 2019, he was jailed for two years on charges of online-rigging operations both in first and second instance.[17] In 21 July 2021, he was sentenced to two years by the supreme court for computer business obstruction, and eventually lost his position as governor.[18][19]


  1. ^ a b c "Opinion-Rigging Scandal Rattles Cheong Wa Dae". The Chosun Ilbo. 19 April 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  2. ^ "Police Detain Bloggers Accused of Rigging Online Comments". KBS World. 16 April 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Blogger sent 5 million won to Rep. Kim's aide: Police". Korea JoongAng Daily. 23 April 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Online Comment Rigging". KBS World. 16 April 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b "(LEAD) LKP submits bills for special probes into opinion rigging scandal, controversy over ex-FSS chief". Yonhap. 17 April 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  6. ^ "[Newsmaker] Parliament OKs bills on extra budget, special counsel probe". The Korea Herald. 21 May 2018. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  7. ^ "President Moon Appoints Special Counsel to Investigate Druking Scandal". 8 June 2018.
  8. ^ He-rim, Jo (6 August 2018). "Gov. Kim grilled over allegations of colluding with Druking". The Korea Herald.
  9. ^ a b "법원, 김경수 지사 구속영장 기각…"드루킹과 공모 다툼 여지"". www.hani.co.kr. 18 August 2018.
  10. ^ "특검 "김경수, 드루킹과 댓글공모…센다이 총영사도 제안했다"". 중앙일보. 27 August 2018.
  11. ^ "민주당 "드루킹 특검, 역대 최악 마무리…망신주기 언플로 노회찬 잃어"". www.donga.com. 22 August 2018.
  12. ^ [일문일답] ‘드루킹 특검’ 종료…“수사 종료 자체 판단…외압 없었다”, NewsPim, 2018.08.27., http://newspim.com/news/view/20180827000369
  13. ^ 특검 "김경수, 킹크랩 개발·운영 허락…댓글 8800만건 조작 관여", Maeil Business Newspaper, 2018.08.27., http://news.mk.co.kr/newsRead.php?year=2018&no=538301
  14. ^ "드루킹 일당이 걸어둔 암호 풀어라"…특검, 전문가 총동원, Yonhap, 2018/07/18, http://www.yonhapnews.co.kr/bulletin/2018/07/18/0200000000AKR20180718142500004.HTML
  15. ^ "드루킹 댓글조작 1/3 암호…FBI도 못 푸는 트루크립트 사용", OBS Gyeongin TV, 2018.07.19, http://voda.donga.com/3/all/39/1394189/1
  16. ^ 'FBI도 못 푼다'는 암호 풀자 드루킹 측근들 태도가 변했다, Chosun Broadcasting Company, 2018.07.18, http://news.tvchosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2018/07/18/2018071890102.html
  17. ^ "Governor Kim Kyoung-soo sentenced to 2 years for online opinion-rigging". 30 January 2019.
  18. ^ 김재환 (21 July 2021). "김경수, 징역 2년 확정…2028년까지 피선거권 박탈(종합)". 뉴시스.
  19. ^ 이수현 (21 July 2021). "김경수, 징역 2년 확정 '지사직 박탈'…"댓글조작 공모 유죄"". 매일신문.