World and Nation

Shorts (right)

South Korea police say spy service tried to sway election

SEOUL, South Korea — At least two agents from the South Korean National Intelligence Service illegally posted comments online criticizing the political opposition ahead of the December presidential election, the police said on Thursday in an interim report on an investigation into accusations of political meddling.

The police said it remained unclear whether the two agents were part of an operation to influence the Dec. 19 election, as the opposition Democratic United Party claimed. But the findings were a blow to President Park Geun-hye, who had vehemently accused her opposition rival, Moon Jae-in, of a political offensive when his party first made accusations of illegal campaign activities by intelligence agents.

Park, the governing party candidate, won the election by a margin of one

The case revived long-held suspicions among South Koreans over the role of the National Intelligence Service. The country’s former military dictators — including Park’s father, the late President Park Chung-hee — had used the agency, once known by its infamous acronym, KCIA, to torture and silence dissidents and influence domestic politics.

After the country democratized in the early 1990s, the agency, which has changed its name a few times, repeatedly vowed not to intervene in politics.

—Choe Sang-Hu

In developing nations, a contest for improvement

SERRAVAL, France — At a school in a rundown suburb of Dakar, Senegal, the toilets had been out of order for months. The boys urinated against the outside walls, the girls headed behind the building. They had no way to wash their hands.

That changed after the directors of the school turned to a new way to alert the authorities — and their watchdogs — to the problem. Shortly after they did so, the toilets were fixed.

“For us, it’s not just to show that there is a capacity in Africa to develop good applications,” said Daniel Annerose, chief executive of Manobi, a mobile technology company in Dakar that developed the reporting system.

The system lets teachers, students, or parents report problems with sanitation facilities at more than 2,000 schools across Senegal.

Called mSchool, it is one of three winners of a competition organized by the World Bank to identify promising solutions for a striking discrepancy in access to high and low technologies in developing countries. Six billion of the seven billion people around the world have mobile phones, while only 4.5 billion have access to toilets, according to a recent United Nations report.

—Eric Pfanner, The New York Times