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“Military Pursuing Institutional Improvements to Maintain Political Neutrality”

On July 2nd, the Ministry of National Defense announced the final results of its task force investigation into the ‘online comment-rigging scandal,’ and released the following statement: “With the investigation result providing momentum, we will go all the way to make legal, organizational and institutional improvements in the military, including cutting off the military’s political interference following unsavory incidents under previous administrations and establishing a special provision for Defense Reform 2.0 to ensure that political interference in the military is never allowed institutionally, and to guarantee the military’s political neutrality.”

On that day, the team announced the results of its re-investigation into the Cyber Command’s manipulation of online public opinions between 2010 and 2014 and the results of its investigation into the Defense Security Command’s alleged political interference since 2008, according to the secondary extended term expired on the 30th of June. The team conducted the investigations in cooperation with the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office, issued four press releases, and released the charges pressed against the people concerned in cases of prosecution to the press.

Regarding the Cyber Command's activities related to online comments, the team announced that it had confirmed the involvement of the former minister, an increase in the number of military civilian personnel, and payment for comment posting by online media disguised as newspapers. Regarding the allegedly poor investigation into the online comment-rigging scandal between 2013 and 2014, the team added that the Ministry of National Defense investigation team had attempted to conceal the scandal, interfered with the request for an arrest warrant against the persons associated with the scandal, and commanded prior leaking of a search and seizure on the Cyber Command and destruction of the information.

However, the team clarified its position that the formation of a consultative group pertaining to the previous investigations into the cyber command’s handling of online comments and other suspected poor investigations, such as the number of comments and critical forensic evidence omitted by the investigation team, were found to be untrue or impossible to judge. The team also explained that the Cyber Command’s suspected hacking into the computer network at the court in 2014 was found to be untrue.

The team also announced the results of its investigation into the Defense Security Command’s suspected manipulation of online comments. 

According to the team's announcement, the Defense Security Command engaged in online operations, collected IDs of anti-president and anti-government portal users and reported them to the Blue House, and worked to manipulate public opinion via Twitter accounts. The Command also had gotten involved in political actions, such as using security-related intelligence and supporting pro-government online activities since 2008.

The team also explained that it found the evidential documents of the Defense Security Command's systematic involvement in the aftermath of the Sewol ferry sinking.  

The Command ran a 60-member task force for nearly six months from April 2014 to track the situation, according to the team. The documents include official papers on ‘the situation regarding the families of the missing victims and the Sewol families' committee,’ ‘the eradication of the unfettered acceptance of the bereaved families' requirements’ and ‘parliamentary sentiment,' as well as documents on public sentiment related to the military rescue operations, such as searching inside the Sewol ferry and lifting the ferry.

“The suspicions of the team will be transmitted to the Ministry of National Defense Prosecutor's Office and be checked for any violation of laws. The ministry will actively cooperate to clarify the truth of the aftermath of the Sewol ferry disaster, including providing the related sources for the Special Investigation Committee for Social Disasters that will resume its activity in accordance with the Special Law for Sewol Ferry,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement. 

By Yeong-Sun, Lee < >

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