The government on Wednesday unveiled a package of measures to fight corruption, including classifying money raised by politicians at their book publication parties as official political funds subject to state scrutiny.
The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission presented the five-year plan during a meeting of top officials of related government ministries and agencies that was presided over by President Moon Jae-in at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
One noteworthy measure is the regulation of money raising through book publication ceremonies.
Under the current law, members of the National Assembly can raise 150 million won (US$140,524) in political donations in a non-election year, and up to 300 million won in an election year.
But those amounts do not include money raised through book publication parties, meaning that such parties can be used as channels for illicit political funds.
The anti-corruption agency reported to President Moon that it will push to include donations made at book publication parties in official political funds.
South Korea has long been plagued by corruption, especially involving senior government officials and politicians. Former President Park Geun-hye was impeached and removed from office for her roles in a massive influence-peddling scandal involving one of her long-time friends.
President Moon has made fighting corruption a top priority of his administration.
According to the 2017 Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International, an international non-governmental organization dedicated to fighting corruption around the world, South Korea ranked only 51st out of 80 countries.
Through the five-year measures, the commission reported to Moon that it will try to raise the country's anti-corruption ranking to above the top 50 nations this year, above the top 40 nations in 2019-2020, and above the top 30 nations in 2021-2022.
Other measures include establishing an investigative agency tasked exclusively with handling corruption cases involving senior officials and politicians; tightening criteria for major corruption crimes, such as bribery, embezzlement and breach of trust; developing an integrity index assessing corruption levels in civilian industries.
Kim Jung-mi firstname.lastname@example.org