The ruling Saenuri party and main opposition Democratic United Party remain at loggerheads over whether state-run intelligence agency tried to illegally intervene in the presidential election slated for Dec. 19.
On Tuesday, the DUP claimed that a National Intelligence Service employee was posting slanderous comments about the party’s presidential candidate Moon Jae-in on the Internet.
“Recently we received a tip-off that NIS-affiliated psychosomatic information team had been reorganized into psychosomatic information bureau, and the members of the bureau had been working to make sure Moon loses in the upcoming election,” said DUP spokesman Jin Seong-jun.
Jin claimed a 29-year-old female employee surnamed Kim had been working for the past three months to “slander opposition candidates and manipulate public opinion” from a studio apartment in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul.
DUP officials visited Kim’s studio around 7 p.m. Tuesday, accompanied by police and the National Election Committee, but failed to secure any evidence in the initial search. When police later attempted to investigate Kim’s laptop and smartphone, she refused to let them back in, leading to an eight-hour standoff with the police.
A police official said they plan to request a search warrant later in the day.
Kim claimed that she had never posted any opinion online concerning the presidential election.
“As an NIS employee, I have always remained politically neutral. I have never posted a malicious post about a presidential candidate,” she said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.
The DUP’s allegation was fiercely criticized by the NIS and the ruling Saenuri Party on Wednesday.
“The Yeoksam-dong studio is a personal residence of the NIS employee, and the DUP trespassed onto it without evidence. To bring a state-run institute into an election is a negative propaganda,” an NIS official said.
The Saenuri Party bashed the opposition party for attempting to carry out what it called “black propaganda.”
“Is this the ‘new politics’ Moon Jae-in and DUP keeps talking about?” Saenuri spokesman Lee Sang-il said. “We will watch what excuses DUP will come up with next, and what cover-up it will use to conceal its faults.”
By Yoon Min-sik