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Statement by TI Korea on the Global Corruption Barometer 2007 results

In the run-up to presidential elections, corruption in Korea is still severe. New president expected to introduce a new era.

Reports about corruption, aberrances and absurdities by high-ranking officials and about plutocrats raising slush funds are very frequent. Because of these immoralities in politics and suspicions between enterprises and the three powers (the administration-legislature-judiciary) citizens are disappointed and resentful to them. In this gloomy reality, TI-Korea reports on the results of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) 2007 and on the challenges to improve the situation.

Severe distrust towards every sector in society

The TI Global Corruption Barometer shows that citizens' distrust towards every sector in society is severe. Political parties receive the least trust with only 20 scores out of 100, the judiciary, which is to guard social justice, got 37.5 scores and religious groups stays at 47.5 scores. NGOs are the best among all but have got only 52.5 scores.

Negative attitude towards government anti-corruption efforts

67% of people responded ‘inefficient’ to government’s anti-corruption work. 34% of people answered negatively to the question ‘Do you expect corruption in your country to increase or decrease in the next 3 years?’ (up from 32% in 2005).

Highest integrity country in daily lives - Only 1 % of experiences

South Korea belongs to the countries with the highest integrity. To the question ‘in the past 12 months, have you or anyone living in your household been requested to pay a bribe from someone in an institution/organization?’ only 1% of respondents said ‘Yes’. It means that petty bribery in daily lives was reduced significantly.

Strong antagonism towards corruption amongst social leaders

The highly pessimistic and cynical perceptions by Koreans are the result of frequent reports about corruption, aberrances and absurdities by high-ranking officials. A lot of cases related to corruption we cannot imagine with common sense. These circumstances triggered this contradictory result which is the most notable feature of the corruption tendency in our country.

Warning sign in anti-corruption: CPI stays the same score

This year the stagnation of South Korea’s score on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) made us concerned about our future. After we got 5.0 out of 10 on the CPI in 2005 with large improvement compared to before, we stayed the same score for 2 years, getting 5.1 in 2006 and 2007. This means corruption in our society stayed the same. Today we see these problems confirmed in the experiences and perceptions of citizens reflected in the GCB 2007.

Required efforts to improve anti-corruption struggle with strict law enforcements

In order to develop a vision for the future, the old state of practice and behaviours should be blamed and punished. Although punishments and enforcements are necessary, this is not enough to cope with the problem.

For conquering the corruption problem, above all we have to be aware of the severe level of corruption. Awareness brings voluntary action. We can bring the prospects to solve the problems with enforcements and initiatives. We have to provide hope with initiatives for enforcement. We recommend reflecting on ‘K-PACT’ which was signed by all sectors in March 2005 that is to create more transparency.

Act now: recommendations

TI-Korea recommendations to improve the level of anti-corruption and to make society more transparent.

  • Strict law enforcement on corruption
    We ought to punish strictly cases of corruption by leaders such as politicians, high-ranking officials and conglomerates with fare enforcement.
  • Reforms in governance for private sector
    Enterprises should strengthen their governance and internal transparency by themselves. Moreover, we should increase social pressure for strict anti-corruption law enforcement.
  • KICAC requires more autonomy in its operations
    KICAC requires more autonomy in its operations and a status of an anti-corruption institution. KICAC needs to expand its role and autonomy to having the right to investigate suspects with a case which is raised from the anti-corruption committee and transforming the right to control public official’s ethics.
  • Set up investigate agency for high-ranking officials corruption
    In order to have trust in judicial justice from citizens, an agency for investigation of corruption among high-ranking officials should be set up. It should disclose all information on alleged cases involving high-ranking officials, judges, prosecutors, members of the National Assembly and so on.
  • Long-term structured anti-corruption program
    Structured and efficient anti-corruption education is needed continuously in a long-term process.
  • Implementation of K-PACT
    Active enforcement of ‘K-PACT’ is required by every sector who signed the pact – political parties, public sector, private sector, civil society – in order to bring out a visible result. ‘K-PACT’ was initiated by Korea to increase transparency in the society with anti-corruption work and is acknowledged worldwide.

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