Study: 90% of South Koreans say corruption isn't getting better

The Hankyoreh, July 10 2013
Transparency International study also finds South Koreans are less likely to report corruption

Nine out of ten Koreans believe that the problem of corruption has remained the same or gotten worse over the past two years, a study has found.

According to the Global Corruption Barometer 2013, released by Transparency International (TI) on July 9, 86% of South Korean respondents said that corruption has increased over the past two years (39%) or stayed the same as before (47%). 56% of respondents do not trust government policies to fight corruption, the report said. The percentage of respondents who said that government action taken to fight corruption is effective was 15%, which dropped by almost half since 2010 (29%).

Transparency International, which researches and publishes the Global Corruption Barometer each year, surveyed 114,000 people in 107 countries over a period of six months, starting in Sep. 2012. In South Korea, the organization interviewed 1,500 men and women.

Levels of Corruption in Korean Society
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One noteworthy statistic was that the majority of Koreans believe that large corporations are influencing government. When asked how much Korea's government is controlled by a few large groups pursuing their own interest, 51% of respondents said "somewhat," and 24% said "a large extent." Only 6% said "not at all."

When points (1-5) were assigned to the level of corruption in various sectors of Korean society, political parties and parliament/legislature were the sectors with the most severe corruption, receiving 3.9 and 3.8 points respectively. Trailing this were religious bodies (3.4), public officials/civil servants (3.3), and judiciary, police, business/private sector, and media (3.2).

How much do large Korean corporations influence government
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Koreans' commitment to stamping out corruption was lower than levels around the world. 60% of respondents said that they would report corruption if they saw it, which was lower than the global average of 69%. This was also 5.7% points lower than the results of a domestic survey conducted in 2010.

Respondents who said that they would not report corruption even if they witnessed it offered reasons such as that "it wouldn't make any difference" (53%) and "I am afraid of the consequences" (26%).

"This is the result of popular mistrust caused by public servants lacking a sense of morality or law and by the way such people run the country," said a spokesperson from the South Korean office of Transparency International. "The government must create a fair system for appointing public figures, make information about administration more available and transparent, and ensure that the leaders of society are subject to the full force of the law."

By Um Ji-won, staff reporter


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