CCP Develops Disinformation Campaign to Interfere in South Korea’s Election

Lisa Bian
By Lisa Bian
December 23, 2023International
CCP Develops Disinformation Campaign to Interfere in South Korea’s Election
A woman leaves a voting booth to cast her absentee ballot for the parliamentary election at a polling station in Seoul, South Korea, on April 10, 2020. (Heo Ran/Reuters)

As the 2024 South Korean legislative election nears, a South Korean study shows that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been attempting to divide public opinion by spreading disinformation on social media in the country.

South Korea’s daily newspaper Hankook Ilbo reported on Dec. 22 that the CCP has organized an influence campaign on South Korea’s largest web portal Naver. Within three months, at least more than 30,000 comments were left by China-based fake accounts to divide public opinion and to influence the Korean people. The CCP is infiltrating South Korea’s online platforms, and the country’s National Intelligence Service also recognizes the seriousness of the problem and is closely monitoring the situation.

The research group led by Yoon Minwoo, a police studies professor at Gachon University in South Korea, revealed on Dec. 21 that they have discovered many suspicious activities in the comments sections on Naver through the method of “crawling” in big data analytics. The analysis was conducted on the comments section in media reports related to Chinese diplomacy from September to November this year.

The research team captured more than 50 accounts containing content that was critical of the U.S.-South Korea and South Korea-Japan relations. The comments also disparaged South Korea and elevated the CCP, which was an attempt to fuel internal conflicts in South Korea.

These accounts match the characteristics of fake Chinese accounts identified by the U.S. Department of State’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) and the European External Action Service (EEAS) when tracking false and misleading information.

Spreading Hate and Division

Common features of these accounts include using avatars of the Chinese flag, Chinese leader, or Chinese military symbols. The comments often contain spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in Korean. Many of the comments spread false information such as COVID-19 originated from the United States and also show support for China’s stance on regional disputes.

Most notably, an account with over 12,000 comments by the name of “toas****” claimed that “being anti-China is the equivalent of being a pro-Japan traitor.” These comments attempted to fuel anti-Japanese sentiment, demean South Korea, and elevate the Chinese regime. The goal is to sow discord in public opinion in South Korea.

Other comments involve disparaging female politicians and sowing division between different parts of South Korea. These comments attempt to deepen the social issues and debates in South Korean society.

According to the research group, it is not clear whether the accounts of these comments are directly related to Chinese authorities, as they would need to be verified by tracking the IP addresses and accessing user information, which is difficult if the online platforms do not cooperate. However, the research team believes that based on the fact that most of the comments created by these accounts praise the CCP, friend each other, and leave traces of comments written in Chinese, it is difficult to see how these messages can be considered to have been written by ordinary South Koreans.

In addition to interfering in South Korea’s election, the CCP’s election meddling via online comments was also revealed during last year’s midterm elections in the United States. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, deleted a large number of fake Chinese accounts in September 2022 due to their attempt to influence the midterm elections in November.

Eighty-one fake Chinese accounts, nine pages, and one group on Facebook were uncovered and banned. The accounts, which posed as American conservatives in broken English, first argued for the constitutional right to own guns and opposed abortion, but later argued against gun ownership and for “reproductive rights,” among other things.

South Korea’s Awareness of CCP Influence

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s government has long been wary of possible Chinese interference in the legislative elections.

In late August, Kim Yongbin, Secretary-General of the National Election Commission (NEC) of South Korea, revealed that the NEC had recognized the risk that the CCP might attempt to “manipulate” next year’s legislative elections and was working to prevent it.

In November, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) of South Korea also found that media companies, working as a front for the CCP, had set up 38 websites imitating the local South Korean media. Those websites attempt to spread false information, incite pro-Communist and anti-U.S. sentiment, and manipulate public opinion in South Korea.

According to a report released by the NIS at the time, the Chinese companies Haimai and Haixun created fake names for online news media and domain names similar to those of South Korean media to disguise themselves as legitimate media websites. They published news articles from other South Korean media without permission, and they falsely claimed to be members of the Korean Digital News Association. Some of the fake websites were called Seoul Press (, Busanonline (, and Chungcheong Times (

These fake South Korean media websites not only illegally published other media reports without permission, but also utilized “Korean Newswire,” the leading provider of press release distribution service in South Korea to spread pro-Communist and anti-American content. These were malicious attempts to manipulate public opinion in South Korea.

South Korea will hold its National Assembly election in April 2024. President Yoon’s government, which is pro-America and pro-Japan, is subjected to many constraints by the pro-China opposition party. So this election will have a great impact on South Korea’s politics.

Han Mino, a former official of South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and founder of the Citizens for Unveiling Confucius Institutes, told The Epoch Times that the CCP is trying to establish a pro-China regime in South Korea by interfering in the elections, and as part of this, it is aiming for a victory for the Democratic Party of Korea, which is pro-China, in the National Assembly election next year. Therefore, the CCP is trying to create a pro-China, anti-American, and anti-Japanese public opinion in South Korea before the election.

Mr. Han emphasized that next year’s election is crucial for South Korea since President Yoon’s administration has not only restored the South Korea-U.S.-Japan partnership, which was damaged during the previous Moon Jae-in administration but has also developed it to a high level since he took office. However, if the Democratic Party of Korea wins an overwhelming number of seats in next year’s National Assembly election, the South Korea-U.S.-Japan partnership built by Mr. Yoon’s administration will likely collapse, resulting in the formation of a pro-China government, and South Korea will be ostracized by the United States, Japan, and other Western countries in the global supply chain. This will negatively impact the economy and security of South Korea.

From The Epoch Times

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