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7. Controversy over State Agencies’ Alleged Intervention in Presidential Race


7. Controversy over State Agencies’ Alleged Intervention in Presidential Race
Rival parties are expected to continue fighting next year over allegations state agencies intervened in the 2012 presidential election.

Both the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the military’s Cyber Warfare Command have been accused of carrying out a smear campaign online against the opposition during the race.

The fighting grew tenser after an investigation by prosecutors revealed employees of the intelligence agency tweeted and retweeted comments about the presidential election.

President Park Geun-hye said she did not receive any help from state agencies during the presidential election, adding it is illegal for state agencies to intervene in political affairs.

Park said she will respect the results of the prosecution’s investigation.

The opposition demanded a strict investigation to unveil the truth behind the allegations and called for the introduction of an independent counsel probe. It also wants those responsible to be punished and an apology from the president.

The main opposition Democratic Party, at one point, boycotted parliamentary activities and held rallies at Seoul Plaza. The standoff kept rival party lawmakers from meeting the December 2 deadline to handle next year’s budget plan.

Near that deadline, rival camps managed to normalize parliamentary operations after agreeing on establishing a special committee on political reform and a special committee on overhauling the National Intelligence Service. They also decided to continue discussions on whether to introduce an independent counsel.

From the beginning, the case has drawn criticism that police hastily investigated and the prosecution faced outside pressure in its probe.

Allegations also surfaced that Prosecutor-General Chae Dong-wook had a son through an extramarital affair. The opposition claimed the case against Chae, who stepped down over the suspicions, was aimed at blocking the active investigation of the election-meddling scandal.

Moreover, allegations recently surfaced that an official of the presidential office illegally accessed information about the child suspected of being Chae’s illegitimate son. This development is expected to further heat up the intervention scandal.

Conflict within the prosecution has also made the case more challenging, particularly after the removal of the head of the investigation, Yoon Seok-yeol. A prosecutorial inspection team said Yoon failed to report to his chain of command when he brought additional charges against the state intelligence agency's former director, Won Sei-hoon, and arrested several NIS agents.

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