Updated December. 14, 2012 23:54
With four days to go before the presidential election, smear campaigns are spreading across the Internet. One claim says Park Geun-hye, the presidential candidate of the ruling Saenuri Party, is related to "Shincheonji," a sect that churches consider heretical. Kim Yong-min, the host of the liberal podcast Nakkomsu, is spreading this information on Twitter. He lost in the April 11 general elections after using vulgar words while a candidate of the main opposition Democratic United Party. A snapshot of a letter that Park sent to the sect leader was circulated but turned out to be fake. Fellow podcast hosts Kim Eo-joon and Ju Jin-woo are also spreading this rumor. Most rumors are groundless. The podcast, known for coarse language, is again taking the initiative in mudslinging.
Another groundless rumor that Park has an out-of-wedlock child is widespread on social networking sites. Novelist Gong Ji-young re-tweeted that if Park is elected, she will give 500 million won (465,500 U.S. dollars) to the head of a polling company but deleted the post immediately and apologized. Cho Guk, a Seoul National University law professor who endorses Park`s main opposition rival Moon Jae-in, released online the personal information of an employee of National Intelligence Service. The Democratic United Party claims that the employee wrote negative posts on Moon. This type of behavior is hardly becoming of a law professor at Koreas top university.
Though relatively less severe than the smear campaign against Park, rumors have it that Moon`s father was a North Korean soldier. The National Election Commission prosecuted a man representing a social networking service team associated with the ruling party for illegal campaigning.
Park told a news conference Friday, Ill fight an all-out war against negative campaigns. Smear campaigns blurs a voter`s right to choose if they are not for screening but for mudslinging. It causes confusion in a campaign and fizzles out after the election. This is why politicians cannot give up negative campaigning easily. Authorities must find and punish the masterminds of such mudslinging even after the election.
Ahn Cheol-soo, a former IT guru who dropped out of the presidential race late last month and now backs Moon, criticized smear campaigns in a Dec. 3 ceremony to disband his election camp, saying, The election campaign is going in the opposite direction. He must step up to blast negative propaganda, but having urged the need for new politics, he seems to be trapped in political logic.
The Constitutional Court a year ago allowed online campaigning, including on the Internet, reflecting the intent of election laws that control money and allow freedom of speech. The ruling, however, does not allow groundless smear campaigns. Voters should judge those who create and spread false rumors only four days before the election.