South Korean president apologises for corruption

Featured - July 25th, 2012

Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, apologized to the public over his brother’s corruption scandal, which could pull down his popularity which is a concern despite his planned step down, the Financial Times reports.

Mr. Lee spoke on Tuesday and expressed his embarrassment over the ‘disgraceful and scandalous’ corruption amid his efforts to crack down on the issue. Mr. Lee’s brother, Lee Sang-deuk, 76, was arrested over allegations of taking bribes worth $500,000 from two bank chairmen seeking political influence. South Korean prosecutors are investigating whether any of the money was used for Mr. Lee’s 2007 campaign.

Mr. Lee’s sixth public apology comes in his final months of presidency and the public is eager for his departure. A person close to Mr. Lee told FT that the apology was intended to “make clear his sincerity” but should not be seen as an admission – it was part of Korean culture for the ‘boss’ to express regrets.

Public opposition is directed at the president’s perceived ‘friendliness’ with big businesses at the expense of the poor. South Korea’s constitution restricts presidents to a single five-year term. According to analysts, Mr. Lee would have little chance of re-election in any case.