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NIS: ‘N. Korea utilizes AI to spread false news ahead of S. Korean general elections’

NIS: ‘N. Korea utilizes AI to spread false news ahead of S. Korean general elections’

Posted February. 29, 2024 07:46,   

Updated February. 29, 2024 07:46


North Korea's spy agencies have opened a series of cyber operations bases in China and other foreign countries to continue its internet commenting activities, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said. The NIS believes that Chinese commenting units are active on the South Korean internet, posting content that emphasizes Chinese chauvinism and fosters internal conflict with the South. There are 216 websites operated by Chinese media outlets that pose as South Korean media organizations. These websites are aimed at spreading pro-China and anti-U.S. content.

According to the NIS on Wednesday, North Korea's spy agencies, the Cultural Exchange Bureau and the General Directorate of Reconnaissance, continue to manipulate comments from overseas bases. Recently, circumstantial evidence has shown these agencies opened fake media outlets operated directly by themselves, which continue to post content that promotes South-South conflict. In particular, the NIS believes that "Willow 200man" and others are spreading false information by repeatedly introducing articles from pro-North Korean media, such as the Jajusibo news site. The NIS said they are distorting and disseminating the political and social situation in South Korea by highlighting anti-American and anti-government rallies and protests by introducing South Korean news articles. The intelligence agency also reportedly found Pyongyang is using artificial intelligence (AI) technology to prepare for the spread of fake news ahead of the April general elections in the South.

In November last year, the NIS revealed 38 "fake news agency websites" operated by Chinese public relations firms under the guise of South Korean media organizations. The NIS also identified an additional 178 similar websites, which have media names similar to those of South Korean media outlets and are publishing articles from domestic outlets without permission, or pretending to be members of the Korea Digital News Association.

"We are consulting with relevant organizations such as the Korea Communications Standards Commission to block fake media websites," the NIS said. "However, the legal basis for blocking them is not clear, so measures such as blocking them are not being taken immediately. The lack of legal and institutional mechanisms limits our response.”

Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com