In a recent development, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) has identified 38 Korean-language news websites suspected of being operated by Chinese companies. The NIS revealed that two Chinese public relations firms were implicated in creating fake websites, posing as members of the Korea Digital News Association.
The fake websites utilized domain names closely resembling legitimate South Korean companies and published articles from local news outlets without authorization. The NIS disclosed that an undisclosed organization attempted to shape public opinion in South Korea by disseminating pro-China propaganda and anti-US content through these fake websites and NewsWire, a Seoul-based press release distribution platform.
Reports from these websites praised China’s handling of the Covid pandemic while criticizing South Korea’s involvement in the US-led Summit for Democracy, alleging it brought “more harm than good.” The NIS, in collaboration with cybersecurity firms, exposed all the identified websites and pledged to closely monitor Chinese firms aiming to expand their cyber influence in South Korea. The intelligence agency also stated its commitment to working with relevant government agencies to shut down counterfeit news sites.
This revelation comes as South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol visits the US to attend the high-stakes Apec summit, coinciding with talks between South Korean and Chinese officials regarding a potential meeting between the leaders. President Yoon plans to seek support from other leaders for a coordinated response to the growing military ties between North Korea and Russia amid the Ukraine war, which he has deemed a “serious threat” to regional security.
The US has previously cautioned against Chinese disinformation campaigns, emphasizing their potential to influence global decision-making and undermine Washington’s interests.