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`Economic Web Pundit Minerva Comprised of 7 People`

Posted January. 20, 2009 08:08,   


A leading monthly magazine is adding to the controversy over the economic Web pundit “Minerva,” running an interview with a man who claims Minerva is not an individual but a group of seven experts.

Shin Dong-A ran the article “The Worst Stagflation is Coming” written by Minerva in its December 2008 edition. A man identified only as “K” said he wrote the article.

“I majored in humanities at university. I worked for three financial institutions and now work as an investment consultant. Minerva is a group of seven people. The group began its activity two or three years ago,” K said.

“Each member has outstanding intelligence. Seven members were divided into four subgroups of foreign exchange, real estate, stocks and bonds. We analyzed economic conditions. I wrote the articles on behalf of the members.”

On the announcement that the Minerva suspect in custody used the Internet protocol address of Minerva, K said, “We have been unable to use the IP address since late last year. It is possible that Park might have manipulated his IP address. It is also possible that one of the seven members who opposed our idea of contributing to our article to Shin Dong-A magazine and has not kept in touch with the rest of us since might have asked Park to post the article.”

The magazine said it confirmed K’s identity by asking blind questions to figures working for foreign-invested companies among those he mentioned in the interview.

Shin Dong-A also said it collected his conversation records with his friends and colleagues. It said a considerable part of the conversations had something in common with Minerva’s articles posted on Agora, a discussion board of Korea’s major portal site Daum.

Nevertheless, Shin Dong-A questioned why K claims he is the real Minerva given the potential danger to himself if he is indeed the Web prophet. Suspicion is also rising over his intelligence and network and whether it is possible for many people to upload articles through only one IP.

Prosecutors have ruled out probing K. “It is clear that Park is the real Minerva who posted articles on a Daum bulletin board. It is not possible that Park has been maneuvered by someone else or has accomplices. Even if another person or another group of people wrote articles using the name Minerva, we have no plan to investigate unless they commit any crime,” a prosecutor said.

Prosecutors said they need not find out who Minerva really is since Park has been caught spreading false rumors that the government urged companies not to buy dollars to stabilize the won-dollar rate.

A source from the Seoul District Prosecutors’ Office said, “At home, Park used the IP address used by netizens to determine articles written by the real Minerva. He has also admitted to writing the articles.”

On the Shin Dong-A report, Park’s attorney Park Chan-jong told reporters, “He has admitted to writing all the articles known to be penned by Minerva, including the one which predicted the bankruptcy of the U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers.”

“(The suspect) Park said, ‘I have neither had an interview with Shin Dong-A nor contributed articles to the magazine. Also I have nothing to do with the argument that I may be related with one of the writing team members.”

On the possible manipulation of the suspect’s home IP address, his attorney said, “Park has no reason to manipulate his IP address at home. He felt unpleasant for being labeled a ‘fake Minerva’ by the magazine.”

suhchoi@donga.com dawn@donga.com