Posted by: rbbadger | August 17, 2008

Corruption South Korean style

Kim Young-sam, former president of the Republic of Korea, sought to end what he called “the Korean disease”, namely the problem of corruption in business and government.  Indeed, his administration launched an all-out war on it.  The most spectacular result of this was the arrest, conviction, and sentencing of his two immediate predecessors in the presidency, namely Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo.  Unfortunately, his efforts were undermined owing to the corruption of one of his sons.  Three of his successor’s sons were convicted of corruption.

There are currently investigations centreing on corruption within the elections process.  The National Assembly fills its seats by two different means.  First, there are those directly elected and then those elected by proportional representation.  Under a PR system, depending on the number of votes cast, seats are allotted to each party by the number of votes it gets.  Three members of the National Assembly were convicted on charges they had bribed their way in getting nominated.  When their party won enough votes for them to be seated, they were subsequently sworn in.  They have about a week to appeal.  If the convictions are upheld, they will lose their seats and go to jail instead.

Of course, our own country is hardly free of corruption.  Illinois seems to have a special talent for it, especially in Chicago.  Former Governor Ryan is in federal prison in Terre Haute.  Arizona has had a governor impeached and convicted (Mecham), another governor convicted of fraud (Symington), ten legislators receiving payoffs from a gambling industry executive, and probably others that don’t spring to mind.  And of course we can’t entirely forget the corruption of the Clinton years, going all the way from perjury, suborning perjury, and of course the pardons for donations to Hillary’s campaign scam.

Scandals do happen, but what matters is how they are treated.  The former chairman of Hanwha hired himself some mobsters to beat up some people who beat up his son.  Apparently, he himself administered the Taser shocks.  He was convicted, but his sentence was suspended.  President Lee pardoned him with another 340,000 people.  These people were pardoned under the guise of being able to help Korea’s suffering economy.  I rather think that this does not help the rule of law, but rather erodes it.  It is also ironic, given that President Lee ran on a strong “Law and Order” platform.  It is all rather unfortunate, really.  South Korea really needs to become a nation where the rule of law is respected and not just something talked about.



  1. Scandals…what can we do? Vote for the best and hope they stay clean and not let power go to their heads. Would you like me to send you a form to vote absentee or did you already do that? Primaries are September 2. Hope you are doing well! Love, Mama

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