South Korea’s intelligence agency said it has identified 38 Korean-language news websites that are suspected of being run by Chinese companies with some allegedly spreading pro-China and anti-US content.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) said two Chinese public relations firms were involved in creating fake websites in the country masquerading as members of the Korea Digital News Association.
It said these fake websites used domain names similar to companies in South Korea and published articles from local news outlets without permission.
An unidentified organisation also tried to influence public opinion of people in Korea by spreading pro-China propaganda and anti-US content through websites and NewsWire – a Seoul-based press release distributing platform – reported Yonhap news agency.
These reports praised the Chinese government for its handling of the Covid pandemic and argued how South Korea’s involvement in the US-led Summit for Democracy brought "more harm than good”.
The NIS said all the websites were exposed by the intelligence agency along with cyber security firms.
It vowed to closely monitor the activities of Chinese firms aimed to extend its cyber influence in South Korea and said it will collaborate with relevant government agencies to close down counterfeit news sites.
It comes as South Korea’s president Yoon Suk-yeol arrived in the US on Wednesday to attend the high-stakes Apec summit while South Korean and Chinese officials are in talks for a possible meeting between the leaders, Seoul’s foreign ministry said.
Mr Yoon has also said that he plans to seek support from other leaders for a coordinated response to growing military ties between North Korea and Russia amid the Ukraine war, which he has condemned as a “serious threat” to regional security.
The US has previously warned against the Chinese disinformation campaign, saying it could eventually sway how decisions are made around the world and undermine Washington’s interests.
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