Imsil head continues tradition of corruption

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Imsil head continues tradition of corruption

The head of Imsil County Office in North Jeolla lost his job yesterday when the Supreme Court confirmed a lower court corruption ruling, ending a 32-month legal battle that pitted the county executive against prosecutors.

With the high court decision, Imsil County continues its embarrassing tradition of losing every county executive it’s ever elected to corruption charges.

The Supreme Court yesterday confirmed a Gwangju High Court ruling that found Gang Wan-muk, the county chief, guilty of taking 11 million won ($9,790) in illegal campaign funds from the boss of a local construction company ahead of the local elections in May 2010 and fined him two million won.

The cutoff for losing your job as an elected public official is a fine of a million won.

“The lower court’s judgment that 11 million won was used as illegal campaign funds remains valid, even if Gang used the money after the elections [in June 2010],” said the Supreme Court.

In January 2011, barely seven months into his four-year term, Gang was indicted without physical detention for taking the money. The troubled official has spent two-thirds of his tenure defending himself against the charges in court.

It’s nothing new for Imsil. Since local governing autonomy was introduced in 1995 and area residents were given the power to elect their leaders, Imsil County has elected four county executives. All four have been implicated in corruption scandals and lost their jobs in the middle of their terms.

The first, in 1995, was Lee Hyeong-ro. He voluntarily stepped down in 2000 during his second term, while standing trial on bribery charges.

His successor, Lee Cheol-gyu, who was elected in a special election and re-elected in the 2004 local elections, also gave up his post in his second term after being charged with taking 90 million won in bribes in return for using his influence in making promotions.

Gang’s predecessor, Kim Jin-eok, lost his job in January 2010 when the Supreme Court convicted him of taking 140 million won from local construction firms. He ended up with a five-year-and-three-month prison sentence and a fine of 120 million won.

Mindful of the area’s tarnished history, the farmer activist-turned-politician pledged to finish his term free from legal troubles when he was elected in 2010.

“By restoring the honor of Imsil that has been lost over the past decade, I will present a proud Imsil to our sons and daughters as the head of the county,” Gang said in his inaugural speech.

Imsil County Office will be run by the vice head of the county until the next local elections, which are slated for June 4 next year.

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