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Avg. Lawmaker’s Net Worth Reaches W3.2 Billion

Posted July. 29, 2008 03:18,   


The average net worth of lawmakers in the 18th National Assembly is 3.2 billion won (3.2 million U.S. dollars), three times larger than the figure for the 17th National Assembly.

The wealth gap between the ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party also decreased.

The National Assembly Ethics Committee yesterday disclosed the assets of 134 first-term and 27 re-elected lawmakers, as well as the 152 lawmakers who resigned after the 17th National Assembly ended. Since certain lawmakers own a great deal of real estate, criticism over property speculation is likely.

▽ Surge in average wealth

The wealth of lawmakers in the 18th National Assembly averaged 3.17 billion won, nearly three times more than 1.1 billion won of those on the 17th National Assembly.

By party, the GNP average was 3.48 billion won, 2.5 times larger than its figure of 1.42 billion won in the 17th National Assembly. The DP average was 2.95 billion won, three times larger than the party’s average of 987 million won in the 17th National Assembly.

The wealth gap between GNP and DP members, however, narrowed mainly due to the ousting of lawmakers born in the 1960s and the high net worth of first-time DP lawmakers.

The average wealth figures per lawmaker were 5.86 billion won for the Creative Korea Party; 2.67 billion won for the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party; 1.27 billion won for the Pro-Park Alliance; 219 million won for the progressive Democratic Labor Party; and 2.78 billion won for independents.

The richest lawmaker was the GNP’s Cho Jin-hyeong with 82.3 billion won, followed by the GNP’s Kim Se-yeon (51.3 billion won), the DP’s Jeong Guk-gyo (38.9 billion won), the GNP’s Kang Seok-ho (19.2 billion won), independent Kim Il-yun (14.2 billion won), and the GNP’s Lim Dong-gyu (10.9 billion won).

Six lawmakers reported net worth of more than 10 billion won, five more than in the 17th National Assembly, when the now-defunct Uri Party’s Kim Hyeok-gyu was the lone holder of wealth exceeding 10 billion won.

In the 18th National Assembly, 18 lawmakers reported assets larger than five billion won, up from five in the 17th National Assembly.

The lawmaker whose assets increased the most from March 26, when registration for the general elections was conducted, was the GNP’s Kim Se-yeon. His fortune shot up eight billion won, something which he attributed to including his mother’s assets.

LFP Chairman Lee Hoi-chang reported debt of 12 billion won due to his failed presidential campaign, but also assets of 2.5 billion won thanks to state subsidies for election costs.

The DP’s Jeong saw his assets fall 11.3 billion won from 50.2 billion won reported when he registered as a candidate due to falling stock prices and a decrease in deposits.

Another DP member Kim Se-ung reported the least net worth of minus 215 million won. Unexpectedly, the wealth of 17 lawmakers who held critical positions in the presidential transition committee or supported Lee Myung-bak in the presidential election averaged 1.88 billion won, lower than that of the lawmakers in the 18th National Assembly.

Forty-four lawmakers -- 23 from the GNP and 21 from the DP -- declined to report the wealth of their parents and children. The percentage of those who did so was bigger among DP lawmakers.

▽ Diversified investment destinations

Kim Se-yeon was also the richest stock owner with shares worth 21.3 billion won, most of them with his company Dongil Rubber Belt.

GNP member Park Min-sik, a former prosecutor, invested 1.7 billion won in the stocks of several corporations, including NHN and Ssangyong Cement.

Independent Park Jie-won reported a three-carat diamond worth 30 million won and the DP’s Kim Jae-gwon reported 13 paintings collectively worth 140 million won.

The GNP’s Ju Gwang-deok said his wife had a viola worth 40 million won and gold worth 14 million won.

jkmas@donga.com koh@donga.com