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Lawmakers’ Wives Named in Bribe Scam

Posted April. 15, 2006 03:08,   


A bribery scandal involving lawmakers Kim Deog-ryong and Park Sung-vum was found to have involved four women. As is sometimes the case with big scandals, women played a role in this scandal. Kim’s wife received a total of 440 million won from wife of Mr. Han, who wished to be a candidate for regional head in Seoul. Han tried to give Kim 500 million won for the wedding of Kim’s son, but Kim did not receive it. Han chose to bribe Kim by involving wives.

Lawmaker Park’s bribery case is similar to that of Kim’s.

Seong Nak-hap, late head of Seoul Jung-gu district, contacted Park and his wife through Mrs. Jang, an exchanger and Seong’s relative. Jang had a meal with Mr. and Mrs. Park and gave a box filled with money worth about 200 million won to Mrs. Park. To curry favor with Mrs. Park, Jang also gave her a fur coat and a designer handbag.

There were many cases in the past involving wives in bribery scandals.

During Kim Young-sam’s administration, in 1996, the wife of Lee Seong-ho, four-time elected representative and former Minister of Health and Welfare, was arrested after receiving 170 million won from the Korean Optometric Association in return for doing the association the favor regarding the monopoly of eyeglass frames.

Joo Hye-ran, wife of Lim Chang-ryeol, former governor of Gyeonggi Province, received 100 million won from the head of a contractor in charge of constructing the Park View apartment complex in Bundang in return for pre-approval of construction, and also received furniture and interior decorations worth a total of 42 million won.

During Kim Dae-jung’s administration, in 1999, the wife of the public prosecutor general was found to have been involved in a “clothes scandal.”

Women also played a role in the “dried croaker scandal” involving Incheon Mayor Ahn Sang-soo. A dried croaker box containing 200 million won was sent to Mayor Ahn’s sister. Due to the incident, Ahn’s career was put at risk. Ahn reported the bribery to the city, and the Supreme Court ruled that he was not guilty.

Politicians’ wives are used as a channel of bribery since they are easy to contact and bribes given to them usually deliver intended results. Politicians’ wives are playing an important role as political partners. They have influence on their husband politicians. There is a customary phrase, “It is men who control the world, but it is women who control men.”

Wives’ involvement in bribery seems to be for protecting politicians from punishment for bribery. A source to the prosecution said, “It is difficult to deal with cases if a politician says that he did not know his wife received money.”

Yong-Gwan Jung yongari@donga.com jin0619@donga.com