Police said yesterday that a Seoul-based lighting company engaged in a large-scale bribery scheme in the South Jeolla region, paying off high-level regional officials - including the governor of Haenam County - in order to win orders for government landscape projects.
A man surnamed Nam, the head of a lighting company initialed N, is suspected to have used a broker to give money and goods to officials in Yeosu, Mokpo and Haenam, all in South Jeolla.
. . .
Haenam, Yeosu, and Mokpo, located on the southwestern coast, have been aggressive in launching nighttime-view landscape projects during the last couple of years. Yeosu, which has been chosen as the host city of the 2012 World Expo, has put aside around 40 billion won just for these projects.
A Dong-A Ilbo editorial from the 23rd has more:
Police detectives raided April 9 the government-provided residence of Haenam County Mayor Kim Chung-sik of South Jeolla Province, a member of the main opposition Democratic Party. Combing through his home, they discovered as many as 30 bundles of five million won notes worth 150 billion won (140 million U.S. dollars) in shopping bags. In his desk drawers, 40 million won (36,000 dollars) worth cash was found. How the Democratic Party selected Kim to run for reelection Wednesday, when the arrest warrant for him was issued, is beyond comprehension.
Yeoju County Mayor Lee Gi-soo, a member of the ruling Grand National Party, was arrested for allegedly handing over a shopping bag containing 200 million won (180,460 dollars) in cash to the secretary of ruling party lawmaker Rhee Beum-kwan. The list of corrupt municipal and provincial government heads released Thursday by the Board of Audit and Inspection included the mayors of Dangjin County in South Chungcheong Province and Yeongyang County in North Gyeongsang Province who were internally appointed or confirmed as candidates for local elections representing the ruling party.
You could assemble a collection of links on corruption in politics for any region of the country, but looking at the title of this blog I've chosen the southwestern corner. Off the top of my head I remember the story of the former Jeollanam-do provincial governor who killed himself in 2004 in the middle of corruption investigation. A 2007 Chosun Ilbo editorial used examples of bribery in Haenam and Gangjin counties as proof of South Korea still "carrying the shameful tag of being a corrupt, backward nation." In March we read about a vote-buying scandal in Shinan county:
The Mokpo Police Department in South Jeolla Province said Thursday 1,093 residents of Imja Island will be questioned regarding suspicions that they received envelopes filled with cash from candidates running for the top seat of a farmers' association on the island.
One of my "favorite" stories, I guess, is of the corruption in Suncheon. From the Dong-A Ilbo in 2006:
In Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, considering that three previous elected mayors were all jailed for charges such as bribery, an “oath of integrity” was taken at the end of the inaugural ceremony.
Ten municipal officials, including Mayor No Gwan-gyu and the vice mayor read and signed the oath in one accord. “I pledge to perform my duties honestly, justly and sincerely according to the law and principles and be a model to others by living an integrated and sound life so that I can fulfill our citizens’ expectations.”
Suncheon mayor No Gwan-gyu on July 3, 2006. The city's undergone quite a transformation during his term.