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N. Korean Defector Group in S. Korea Uses Online Smear Campaign to Sway Public Opinion
Newstapa, one of the South Korean internet news outlets, reported on August 28, 2013 that 'North Korean (NK) Intellectuals Solidarity' at the end of 2009 had formed a secret group called 'Battlefield' with more than 100 members to perform online smear campaigns to sway public opinion on an internet portal site.
Newstapa said that the members of the organization had been compensated monetarily for their online operations, although where the money came from was a tightly kept secret.
While there has not been a direct link discovered yet between the two organizations, what 'NK Intellectuals Solidarity' did to sway public opinion appears to be very similar to what the South Korean National Intelligence Service did before last December's presidential election to sway the election in favor of the ruling party.
Newstapa, an independent internet news outlet on Youtube, was established in November 2011 by reporters and journalists who had lost their positions in the South Korean mainstream media outlets for fighting for freedom of press. Newstapa has since provided South Koreans with truthful news and reports and has grown into an influential alternative news outlet in South Korea.
Here is the actual article from Newstapa.
An organization for North Korean defectors receives money for online smear campaign.
In addition to the existing allegations of the National Intelligence Service's psychological team's interference in the presidential election, including hiring civilians to post online comments, it has been revealed now that an organization for North Korean defectors did similar online operations on a large scale promoting the policies of President Lee Myung-Bak' s administration and calling critics of the government and the ruling party blind followers of North Korea.
Newstapa Korea secured a testimony from many North Korean defectors that the members and their families of 'North Korea (NK) Intellectuals Solidarity' had received money for having written online postings in Agora forums at Daum, an internet portal, for a whole year from the end of 2009 to the end of 2010, 'NK Intellectuals Solidarity' is an organization that was established in 2008 with North Korean defectors who had North Korean college education of at least three years.
According to the North Korean defectors that Newstapa contacted, in 2009 'NK Intellectuals Solidarity' set up a secret organization called 'Battlefield' and had it perform systemic operations to manipulate public opinion in Agora forums. There were eight teams in total in 'Battlefield' and each team consisted of one team leader and ten members. Later on, when more people wanted to join, 'Battlefield' grew into a larger group with more than 100 members in an effort to make more money.
These members posted numerous writings under the control of team leaders, blindly supporting Lee's administration's policies such as the development of the four big rivers, the planned relocation of the ministries and agencies to Sejong City, as well as writings about North Korea. For posting those writings in Agora forums each team member received 50K won to 400K won, totaling approximately 20M won ($18K) per month. However, the source for this money was a tightly kept secret even within the 'NK Intellectuals Solidarity'.
Newstapa's own investigation confirmed that the management, the members, and the families of 'NK Intelligence Solidarity' wrote a few hundred to a few thousand postings per member for the year of 2010 in Daum Agora forums using nicknames such as 'ankisman',' taebaek owl', 'sonata', 'chokdee', 'jungpil', 'juljangmi', 'chime sound', 'tulip', and 'honey'. A wife of one of the executive members under a nickname, 'taebaek owl' posted 2,100 writings during the period between December 2009 through November 2010 and a nickname 'tulip' wrote 2,183 postings. They wrote close to 200 postings on average each month, but stopped their work abruptly in November. It is believed that the money stopped coming in at that time.
One defector said during the interview with Newstapa that he felt bad about what he had done. He said that an offer had come to them, "so many North Korean followers are going crazy in Agora. We need someone who could write about things that can show the reality of North Korea. Do you have writers in your group? If so, please write in Agora". But the representatives of the organization deny any allegations of their members having done any activity in Agora forums and refuse to be interviewed.
Here is the link to the original article: