President Moon Jae-in on Thursday appointed prosecutor-turned-lawyer Huh Ik-bum as an independent counsel to lead an investigation into the “druking” online opinion rigging scandal.
Presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Moon made the choice out of respect for the parliamentary agreement and recommendation, and expressed hope he will lead an objective and fair investigation.
Earlier, opposition parties recommended two candidates to President Moon who were shortlisted from four candidates suggested by the Korean Bar Association.
Last month, rival parties passed a bill to appoint an independent counsel to look into the scandal, which centers on an influential blogger who goes by the alias “druking.”
The special counsel Huh is a former prosecutor-turned-lawyer with expertise in conflict mediation.
He has a 20-day preparatory period to assemble investigators, secure office space and consolidate documents. He will then have 60 days for the main investigation, but that can be extended by 30 days with the president’s approval.
The probe will seek to determine whether druking and his associates manipulated online comments to generate public opinion favorable to then-candidate Moon Jae-in and his party around the time of last year's presidential election.
Whether former Democratic Party lawmaker Kim Kyoung-soo, a close confidant of the president, was involved in the rigging operation will also be investigated.
It’s most likely that Kim will be summoned for questioning. The blogger claims the lawmaker knew about the rigging activity using the "macro" computer program.
The probe may also target the top office as a presidential aide is found to have received money from druking.