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Biased commitment to uproot corruption

Posted April. 12, 2018 08:23,   

Updated April. 12, 2018 08:23


New suspicions surrounding new Financial Supervisory Service chief Kim Ki-shik continue to arise. He was found to have spent 13 million won on an eight-day overseas trip to Europe on May 20, 2016, just 10 days prior to the closure of the 19th National Assembly. He also donated 50 million won to “Better Future,” a fraternity for legislators at the Democratic Party. Afterwards, he became the head of the Korea Institute for the Future, the party’s think tank under “Better Future,” implying that the “donations” eventually became funds for him. The fact that his personal savings alone increased 415 million won during his tenure as legislator has also come under the spotlight. The figure can only be amassed when saving annual salaries for four consecutive years without any spending.

From Jan. 1, 2016 to May 30, 2016 when his term ended, he spent political donations of 368.49 million won, which is equivalent to spending 70 million won a month. When he failed to get nominated in the 20th general election, he donated 50 million won to himself, used 22 million won for retirement funds for his staff and donated 19 million won to his fellow legislators and 70 million won to the Economic Reform Research Institute and other civic or research groups, using a total of 160 million won just two months prior to the end of his term. Most of the spending should have been made with his personal funds. According to the law, legislators should return their political donations to respective parties or the government. But Kim returned only four million won after his indiscriminate “spending” in order to avoid the law.

Kim is criticized for applying double standards to his situation. Though he insisted on uprooting corruption and perquisites for the privileged class, it turned out that he had been the beneficiary of the privileges. Ignoring the past, he was always ready to judge others. He patronized his fellow legislators on the transparent use of political funds, but used the funds as if they had been his own money. Though he led the enactment of the Kim Young-ran Act (the anti-graft law), he went on a business trip funded by the auditee shortly after the law was legislated. One might think that his previous background of working 20 years as a civic activist was disguise for political career, not an opportunity to build up moral values.

Despite such suspicions, however, the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling party regard the allegations as politically motivated attacks and support Kim. Cheong Wa Dae repeatedly dismissed calls for dismissal and said that its position remains “unchanged” on Kim’s appointment. “The opposition parties first blame the Broadcasting Act as an excuse to delay discussions, while focusing on overstating suspicions of Kim,” denounced ruling Democratic Party leader Chu Mi-ae. We must pay attention to the fact that the government is committed to eliminating deeply-rooted, unfair and wrongful practices. It is unacceptable to cover up Kim’s wrongdoings as normal political practice. Only doing so will create a new form of unrighteous practice.