The arrest of Lee Sang-deuk, a six-term former Parliamentarian and former Vice Speaker of the National Assembly, represents a significant step forward in the uprooting of political corruption and establishing of a more transparent society. Mr. Lee is charged with accepting massive bribes from a savings bank. He is further accused of accepting huge amounts in return for helping to either take over, control or invest in several state-owned enterprises.
Popular anger is running high over these charges as Mr. Lee is the brother of the sitting president, Lee Myung-bak, and has enjoyed an unofficial role as “kingmaker” and “great problem solver” during the current administration.
Transparency International Korea calls on the authorities to take this opportunity to address the ongoing issue of high-level corruption by high-ranking officials and national leaders by initiating a debate on how Korea may improve its social system in a way that can help curb corruption.
“The country needs to develop more effective ethics and anti-corruption awareness education programs and build a culture in which citizens naturally feel a sense of social responsibility,” said Geo-Sung Kim, TIK’s chairperson.
To this end, we need to understand that corruption is not a problem for the leadership alone. It is also the major factor contributing to the devastation of people’s lives. According to the recent OECD happiness index, South Korea ranks 32nd among the 34 OECD member countries.
“Due to these issues, Korean people are becoming more impervious to having corrupt leaders to the point that they no longer feel happy living in this society,” he said. “That is a sad indictment of Korea and one that this generation should take responsibility for and rectify.”
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