Majority of lawmakers made more last year

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Majority of lawmakers made more last year

Despite the economic slowdown, more than seven out of 10 Korean lawmakers and high-ranking civil servants saw their wealth rise last year due mainly to an increase in the value of their real estate assets and stocks, data showed Thursday.

The annual data, released by the Government Public Ethics Committee, showed that of the nation’s 1,800 public officials, 1,382, or 76.8 percent, reported an increase in their assets in 2016. Among them, 571 saw their wealth swell by 100 million won ($89,000) or more. The country’s public service ethics act requires senior government officials, lawmakers, heads of municipalities, members of local legislatures and senior judges to report their assets every year.

The average wealth of the high-level officials was tallied at 1.35 billion won ($1.2 million) as of the end of last year, up 76 million won from a year ago. The rise in their assets was largely attributed to the increase in their real estate holdings, shares, personal savings and inheritances, the committee said.

Former President Park Geun-hye reported assets worth 3.73 billion won last year, up 218 million won from the previous year. Her assets were reported to the committee late last year before her dismissal over a corruption scandal earlier this month.

In the past four years since Park took office in February 2013, her assets grew by nearly 1.2 billion won due in part to the rise in the value of her private house in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, her deposits at local banks, and royalties from her autobiography published in 2007.

Heo Seong-joo, the director of the Seoul National University Dental Hospital, turned out to be the wealthiest senior public official with assets valued at 20.7 billion won. He was followed by Kim Hong-sub, the head of the Jung Ward Office in Incheon, with 19.4 billion won in wealth.

Lee Ryun-joo, a presidential secretary for national assignments, topped the list of well-heeled central government officials with 10.1 billion won in assets. The average wealth of senior presidential secretaries came to 1.55 billion won. Lee was trailed by Kim Hak-kyun, a standing member of the Financial Services Commission, who reported 9.7 billion won in assets.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is acting president, posted 2.52 billion won in assets last year, up 360 million won from a year ago. The average wealth of senior officials at his office was tallied at 1.52 billion won.

Rep. Kim Byoung-gwan of the largest Democratic Party topped the list of wealthy lawmakers with personal assets totaling 167.8 billion won. Kim previously headed Webzen, a local game developer.

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