New S Korea graft law bites today
SOUTH Korea’s new anti-graft laws designed to curb paid-for favours will make it illegal for government employees, private school teachers and journalists to accept meals worth 30,000 won (US$26) or more.
Restaurant owner Roh Young-Hee told AFP the number of reservations has fallen sharply as customers are apparently worried they might be caught in breach of this law which comes into effect today.
“There are meals of different price ranges in the world, but with 30,000 won you cannot produce decent Korean dishes,” she said.
The legislation, the latest effort to curb low-level corruption endemic in South Korea, targets teachers bribed by parents to give better grades, journalists paid to give favourable publicity and officials paid to speed up bureaucratic processes.
The ban also forbids teachers, officials and journalists accepting gifts worth 50,000 won or higher, and cash gifts above 100,000 won for weddings or funerals.
In the past, people charged with receiving bribes got away with a slap on the wrist or were acquitted as it was hard to prove that money or gifts changed hands in return for a favour instead of as a token of hospitality.
Some critics say the law’s targeting of private sector workers is potentially unconstitutional and that the government rushed the law through as a sop to public opinion.
“Punishment is a short-term measure. We need education to raise public awareness,” said Kim Young-chul of the Korean Association for Anti-Corruption Policy Studies.