Do you know the name, ‘Druking’? Maybe you have heard a lot about it in the news or in articles. Druking is the nickname of ‘Kim Dong-won’, who ran various organizations and delivered illegal funds to politicians. He used the nickname to run blogs and create organizations on the Internet. In the process, several illegal incidents have occurred and investigations have been conducted. However, the case has involved various key politicians of the current administration, prompting suspicions by police and prosecutors to reduce and cover up their investigations. The agreement between ruling and opposition parties introduced special prosecutors into the ‘Druking' case. This case reveals many structural problems in the Republic of Korea, except that it is related to the current administration. Therefore, consideration of this case is needed.
Druking, Who Is He?
The Meaning of ‘Druking’ and the Place He Acted
Kim Dong-won, known by his nickname ‘Druking’, ran various social networking services such as blogs and Twitter. Many people guess that his nickname 'Druking' has a political meaning because he was involved mainly in politics. However, 'Druking' combines the online game character 'Druid' in 'War of Warcraft' and ' King'. This means that there is no special political meaning behind his nickname. Kim used this nickname to run a blog called 'Druking's Data Warehouse', a cafe called 'Economic Coevolution Group' and a podcast. Among these, 'Economic Coevolution Group' was the organization on which he was based and operated by dividing the hidden cafes and opened cafes.
A progressive commentator who originally worked in a left-leaning community, Druking has run his own blog called 'Druking's Data Warehouse' since 2006. On this blog, he deals with worldwide political situations and posts messages with his own ideas and predictions, not just with articles and information. His posts generally tried to make headlines by claiming that Druking’s predictions were right. Given the nature of Naver blog, however, many people suspect that his posts were manipulated, since the date of a post do not change even after modifications to its contents are made.
Since starting his blog, Druking has recruited members to a cafe called 'Economic Coevolution Group' for the purpose of economic democratization and minority shareholder activism. Initially, this group was created in a hidden cafe that ordinary people could not join, but it was later converted to an open cafe in early 2014. However, unlike its original purpose, the organization has become a pseudo-like organization as Druking contacted the political community to show off his influence and braises members.
The Cases Connected with ‘Druking’
First, there was the fight with former Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung. In 2016, Druking uploaded an analysis of Lee Jae-myung on his blog, 'Druking's Data Warehouse'. The article described Lee as a close aide to Jeong Dong-yeong. Lee complained that this was not true and even tried to sue Druking for spreading false information. However, 'Park Geun-hye, Choi Sun-sil gate’ was blew up, this issue was died down. Lee Jae-myung was a time of rapid rise by emphasizing the image of ordinary people and being a capable administrator, so it is possible that he strongly protested Druking's writing.
The second case was the illegal political funding of Roh Hoe-chan, a former floor leader of the 'Justice Party'. Druking remitted 2 million won to a driver who was a member of Roh Hoe-chan's election camp ahead of the 2016 general elections. The National Election Commission caught this and was indicted for violating the Public Official Election Act, which resulted in a fine. In addition, to the special prosecutor's review of the investigation, a summons was scheduled to be made for Roh Hoe-chan, but the case ended when Roh Hoe-chan committed suicide.
Druking’s Manipulation of Public Opinion
The Process of the Case
The next case began on January 31, 2018 when the Democratic Party commissioned the police to investigate allegations that it manipulated Naver comments using macros. The main opposition to the Democratic Party has oversubscribed its comments on Naver due to the surging number of 'Like' or 'Unlike' comments, the discovery of sites dealing with Naver's ID, and certain articles. Police launched an investigation and arrested three people on charges of manipulating comments from Naver in April. Among them, Druking is a key figure. They were also all found to be working for 'Elm-tree publisher', a paper company that Druking has made. What is strange here is that they were all members of the Democratic Party. The fact that the ruling party members fabricated the government's non-parliamentary comments is beyond comprehension. However, it was later discovered in the investigation that, not only did they criticize the government, they also defended it to a certain point. In addition, the revelation of the message between Kim Kyung-soo of the Democratic Party and Druking has raised suspicions that the incident was linked to the Democratic Party and may have paid for the fabrication. As a result, special prosecutors have been launched for the manipulation of public opinion.
The most important issue is whether there was a deal between the Democrats or certain lawmakers and 'Druking'. Without a deal between the two, the case simply ends up as a crime in which Druking and the Economic Coevolution Group manipulated comments on the portal site. However, if a Democratic Party member or a certain lawmaker promised to pay a price and demanded them to manipulate the comments, it would be an organized manipulation of public opinion aimed at the election. In this case, all the politicians involved in the incident will be hit.
Secondly, it is a matter of character in Druking's Economic Coevolution Group. If the group is found to be just showing willingness to be loyal to influential politicians and trying to achieve their political goals, and then it fails to get back at the end of the chapter, then the allegations will be nothing but a series of comments. However, if the group turns out to be a private organization that is funded and directed by the Democratic Party, rather than simply a group of individuals, the issue will be expanded further. In particular, if they were involved in manipulating comments before the 19th presidential election, they might be considered fraudulent. If this happens, the entire ruling party, including the current presidential office, could be shaken.
Problems in Korea Revealed Through ‘Druking’ Case and Solutions
Problem with Reply System
No matter where the issue of the case is directed, the case reveals the problems of various systems in Korea. The most significant issues are comments from portal sites and news systems. In particular, Naver, the source of the incident, said it would not be possible to use macros. Yet, as it was confirmed that some people already used macros to increase their number of 'Likes', problems with its comment system are confirmed. The problem has also caused a stir on Naver, which accounts for about 80% of the Korean portal site market. In response, Naver limited the number of empathy and non-public feelings to 50 within 24 hours, and posted up to three comments on the same article. It also increased the gap between writing a comment series from 10 seconds to 60 seconds, and allowed 10 seconds to be left when a user click ‘Like’ or ‘Unlike’. In addition, Naver tried to minimize manipulation of political opinion by eliminating the ability of articles to sort comments according to the number of ‘Like’. Such measures have made it difficult to manipulate public opinion through comments, at least for political news articles.
The Comprehensiveness of the System
In the case of Druking’s manipulation of public opinion, they were arrested after it was proven that macros were used to manipulate the number of comments or empathy. However, we should think about the number of other cases too. If people do not use macros but use an organization to bring people to terms of empathy, can they be punished? For now, there is no solution to this and even if this happens, there is no way to punish them even if each person states that it was his or her will. In other words, the most urgent thing is to improve the system of comment or public opinion rather than the law. The most effective system currently is to eliminate the method of sorting comments in the order of decision making. Of course, you can read many interesting and refreshing comments by sorting them by decision. However, in political, social or international articles, the amount of controversy is greater and more damaging to democratic values. Therefore, portal sites should eliminate this sort of comment arrangement in the future and make it a forum for people to share their opinions, rather than a venue for competition to get noticed.
Solutions to a Manipulation of Public Opinion
To manipulate public opinion is to try to move a person's mind by showing the opinion. Therefore, when manipulating public opinion, the person's attitude is more important than the size or direction of the fabricated opinion. No one's intention can affect anything if his or her own mind is clear. Therefore, in the process of making decisions given to them in democratic countries, people should develop their own power of thinking rather than being swayed by other people's opinions. The nation should encourage this and continue to educate people to become advanced democratic citizens. In such a society, manipulation of public opinion is 'shouting in the air' and the effects of 'manipulation of public opinion' will not be effective.
The case, in which Druking used comments to manipulate public opinion, revealed loopholes of Korea's law and Internet system. Just as important as the strict investigation into the case is to resolve the nation's problems revealed by this case. In a highly wired Korean society, manipulating and spreading public opinion during election campaigns has become easier than ever. However, if individuals can read through such fabricated information and solidify their opinions based on facts, manipulating public opinion will not affect the outcome. To this end, the nation should establish an institutional framework that will strengthen punishment for manipulating public opinion. Because manipulating public opinion harms the fundamental nature of democracy. People should have an acceptable sense of discrimination between manipulation of public opinion and real information and establish personal supervision based on truth. < 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >