AI-Based Attacks , Fraud Management & Cybercrime , Geo Focus: Asia

AI-Generated Deepfakes Flood South Korean Election Campaigns

Election Commission Spots 129 Pieces of Fake Content, Vows to Prosecute Offenders
Two people walking by posters of local election candidates in Seoul, South Korea in 2022 (Image: Shutterstock)

South Korea's election watchdog warned Monday that the upcoming parliamentary elections in April could be marred by artificial intelligence-generated deepfake campaigns aimed at influencing voters. The agency said it will prosecute anyone suspected of deepfake election fraud.

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The National Election Commission said it has already identified up to 129 instances of political parties and others using AI-generated deepfake content between Jan. 29 and Feb. 16 to influence the outcome of the April 10 election.

The warning follows an announcement by the commission on Jan. 18 saying that it will implement comprehensive measures to prevent malicious entities from using deepfake videos as part of election-related social media campaigns.

Recent advancements in AI technology have enabled malicious actors to create virtual voices, images and videos that are hard to distinguish from legitimate recordings, the NEC warned.

"To compensate for technical limitations, reliability is increased through three stages of identification, including visual detection, use of general-purpose programs, and identification by AI advisors," the NEC said. "In addition, we intensively monitor whether AI content is used for election campaigns, such as by posting report and tip banners on the initial screen of portals and community sites."

Earlier this month, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol expressed concern that North Korea may use all means at its disposal - including border provocations, missile launches, provocative statements and cyberattacks - to interfere with the upcoming legislative elections (see: South Korean President Expects North Korea Election Meddling).

The South Korean National Assembly amended the Public Official Election Act in December 2023 to ban the creation and distribution of AI-generated content for election campaigns.

Lawmakers drew a line on the use of AI-generated content to conduct election campaigns, but said the Election Act allows political parties and citizens to use deepfake technology to promote voter participation and intraparty activities.

Under the amendment, anyone using deepfake videos for election campaigning prior to the April 10 parliamentary elections could be fined up to $7,500 or face up to seven years in prison. The NEC said it will strictly enforce the law to prevent violations ahead of the national elections.

About the Author

Jayant Chakravarti

Jayant Chakravarti

Senior Editor, APAC

Chakravarti covers cybersecurity developments in the Asia-Pacific region. He has been writing about technology since 2014, including for Ziff Davis.

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