S. Korean PM of­fers to re­sign amid scan­dal


South Korea’s prime min­is­ter has of­fered to re­sign amid a bribery scan­dal just two months af­ter he took up the coun­try’s No. 2 post, of­fi­cials said Tues­day, in the lat­est po­lit­i­cal cri­sis to hit Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye.

Lee Wan-koo has been at the cen­ter of a cor­rup­tion scan­dal that flared af­ter a busi­ness­man killed him­self ear­lier this month, leav­ing a memo list­ing the names of eight high-pro­file fig­ures he claimed to have bribed. Most of the eight men, in­clud­ing Lee, are con­sid­ered close as­so­ciates of Park.

Busi­ness­man Sung Wan-jong told a lo­cal daily be­fore his death he gave 30 mil­lion won ( NT$852,183; US$27,390) to Lee in 2013.

Lee has de­nied the al­le­ga­tion but he has seen grow­ing calls to re­sign af­ter South Korea’s me­dia have re­ported al­leged ev­i­dence that in­di­cates his ties with Sung. Lee’s of­fice said Tues­day he con­veyed his res­ig­na­tion of­fer Mon­day to Pres­i­dent Park, who was in Peru on a four-na­tion trip.

Park de­scribed Lee’s res­ig­na­tion of­fer as “very re­gret­table” and said she “felt the prime min­is­ter’s agony,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment posted on the web­site of the pres­i­den­tial Blue House.

Park also called for a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the scan­dal, the state­ment said.

Chun Hye-ran, a pres­i­den­tial spokes­woman in Seoul, said she has not been in­formed whether Park would ac­cept the res­ig­na­tion of­fer.

The lat­est scan­dal comes as Park strug­gles to deal with crit­i­cism over her gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of last year’s ferry dis­as­ter that killed more than 300 peo­ple. Vi­o­lence broke out at a Seoul rally Satur­day led by rel­a­tives of the ferry vic­tims and their sup­port­ers, leav­ing dozens of peo­ple in­jured. Park has also faced crit­i­cism over what an­a­lysts say is her poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the public and lack of trans­parency on per­son­nel ap­point­ments. Some of her pre­vi­ous prime min­is­ter and Cabi­net mem­ber picks have had to with­draw from the nom­i­na­tion process af­ter al­le­ga­tions about their eth­i­cal lapses and prob­lem­atic past be­hav­ior emerged.

Lee’s al­leged in­volve­ment in the scan­dal came as a sur­prise as he an­nounced a gov­ern­ment’s plan in March to fight cor­rup­tion in what crit­ics say was an at­tempt to tar­get as­so­ciates of for­mer Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak, Park’s im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor and chief ri­val.


Cy­clists lie in the street as they take part in a “die-in” vigil in mem­ory of renowned cy­clist Moira Gem­mill who died af­ter be­ing hit by a dump truck on April 9, on a round­about on the junc­tion of Mill­bank and Lam­beth Bridge in cen­tral Lon­don on Mon­day, April 20. Gem­mill, aged 55 and the for­mer head of de­sign at the Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum, was the fifth cy­clist killed in a col­li­sion with a ve­hi­cle in Lon­don this year.


In this Mon­day, April 20 photo, South Korean Prime Min­is­ter Lee Wan-koo ar­rives at the gov­ern­ment com­plex in Seoul, South Korea.

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