[EDITORIALS]Korea’s corruption problemAccording to Transparency International, South Korea has dropped 10 notches from last year on the Corruption Perception Index to 50th out of 133 countries surveyed. While Korea is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the level of corruption of civil servants and the practice of accepting bribes is higher than those of many developing countries. Such a bad business environment is one of the reasons that foreign businesses have avoided investing in Korea recently.
It is a significant problem that corruption, which showed some signs of decline, has risen again to a serious level. The disclosure of a flow of secret funds from Hyundai and SK Groups and the dark shadow of collusion between business and politics have caused a deterioration in the international assessment of Korea. Politicians, civil servants and businessmen should feel their responsibilities.
The political community has played the most crucial role in defaming Korea as a “corruption republic.” It is evident that the slogans of reform and anti-corruption spouted by the Kim Dae-jung government and the current one were nothing but empty words. Even now, the suspicion that some Blue House secretaries are connected to the flow of secret funds from SK Group persists. Regulations that strangle businesses are also a hotbed of corruption. It is hard to expect corruption to disappear if one must go through scores of steps to start a new business.
The level of corruption and national competitiveness are directly connected. Without overcoming a reputation that Korea is a corrupt country, we cannot expect an economic recovery or an improvement in international recognition. With such a reputation, we can neither make Korea a business-friendly country, nor boost the economy and create jobs. The political community must reflect on itself first. Powerful men in the Blue House and political community must lead the anti-corruption campaign. A stricter system of oversight against corruption must be provided. At the same time, regulations should be relaxed drastically and transparency of accounting and management should be enhanced.