A Seoul court was set to deliver a verdict on Jan. 30, 2019 on a prominent liberal politician and a power blogger in an online opinion rigging scandal linked to President Moon Jae-in and the ruling party.
The Seoul Central District Court will hand down a decision on South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo in the sentencing trial due at 2 p.m. Hours prior to Kim's trial, the court is scheduled to rule on Kim Dong-won, the blogger better known by his nickname Druking, in a hearing set for 10 a.m.
The governor, affiliated with the ruling Democratic Party (DP), stands accused of colluding with the blogger to manipulate comments on news articles to benefit his party, then the main opposition, in the run-up to the 2017 presidential election.
The then-DP frontrunner Moon won the snap election in May, which came after his predecessor Park Geun-hye's ousting from office by the Constitutional Court over an influence-peddling scandal.
A special counsel was launched in June last year to investigate the allegations. Special Counsel Huh Ik-bum has demanded five years in prison for the governor and seven years for the blogger.
Kim, a close aide to President Moon Jae-in, is suspected of approving Druking and his crew's ploy to develop and use a computer program to artificially jack up the number of "likes" for Internet political comments.
The governor, 51, is also accused of violating the election law by attempting to procure a consul general job in Japan for an associate of Druking in return for carrying out the illicit cyber operations.
Gov. Kim has denied the charges.
The scandal became a hot-button political issue in South Korea as it implicated two influential politicians -- Gov. Kim and late liberal lawmaker Roh Hoe-chan.
Roh jumped to his death in July last year amid the special counsel's probe into an allegation that he took political funds from an aide to Druking. (Yonhap)