How to eradicate corruption

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How to eradicate corruption

The author is a political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Netflix series “Narco-Saints,” which went viral during the Chuseok holiday, features several strange scenes. Pastor Jeon Yo-hwan, a drug tycoon, welcomes a drug buyer by mobilizing local police in Suriname just like his private soldiers. It was possible because Jeon was a powerful man who bribed the heart of power in Suriname.

The drama shows how a corrupt government can put a nation in chaos. The core of the narration — “Drugs, gangs, a corrupt government are all in Suriname” — is the corrupt government. Jeon could monopolize cocaine distribution and created a large criminal syndicate with money made from drug dealing because he had bribed the government.

Cho Bong-haeng, a real life drug kingpin and inspiration for the character of Jeon, mobilized the local network in Suriname to build a strong relationship with high-level officials. He could even get a list of Asian passengers entering the country. He is believed to have been acquainted with Desi Bouterse, former president of Suriname.

Notorious dictator Bouterse rose to power in the country with his coup in 1980. Only one newspaper was allowed to publish, and 15 people, including journalists criticizing the dictatorship, were tortured and shot to death. Bouterse was sentenced to 11 years in prison for cocaine smuggling in the Netherlands. But he was elected president in an indirect election in 2010 despite various allegations against him.

Suriname’s national corruption perception index (CPI) has been around 30 to 40 points since 2010. Transparency International (TI) evaluates that 50 points refers to a country barely freed from absolute corruption. The power change in 2020 ended Bouterse’s extended rule, but issues of drug cartel and corruption remain. Absolute corruption became chronic.

Korea’s CPI last year was 62 points, higher than Suriname. But in the same year, a survey by You Myoung-soon, a professor at Seoul National University Graduate School of Public Health, shows that six out of 10 people are in a state of chronic resentment and that the biggest cause was “immorality and corruption of politics and political parties.”

On Sept. 10, the Yoon Seok-yeol administration began implementing a revision to the enforcement ordinance of the amended Prosecutors’ Office Act and Criminal Procedure Act, which had been unilaterally passed by the Democratic Party (DP) to block the prosecution’s investigations into their past wrongdoings. As President Yoon’s People Power Party (PPP) pushed the revision of the enforcement decree to eradicate corruption, I hope the government applies the same tough standards when investigating the corruption of its own.
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