High Korean Corruption Rankings Make Netizens Despair

The announcement that South Korea is the most corrupt nation among developed countries in Asia has provoked accusations and anger from Koreans online. A Hong Kong-based risk consulting company recently published a report based on a survey of Asian business people that concluded that South Korea is more than twice as corrupt as Singapore, Japan, or Hong Kong. A 2013 survey from Transparency International also investigated the level of corruption in the country, reporting that Koreans feel political parties and the National Assembly are the most corrupt institutions, while NGOs were the least corrupt.

From Nate:

Korea, Most Corrupt among Developed Nations in Asia

According to an international survey, ‘Korea is the most corrupt developed nation in Asia’.

In a survey asking foreign businessmen in Asia about the level of corruption in their markets, South Korea was perceived to be at least twice as corrupt as Singapore, Japan, Australia, or Hong Kong. Those with a level of corruption higher than Korea include India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and China. South Korea ranked 2nd in Asia in the category of corporate corruption and lenient punishment for offenders. According to this report conducted in 17 countries in Asia (the U.S., Hong Kong, and Macao were also included) and released on the 14th by Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), Korea has a corruption index of 6.98 this year.


PERC, established in 1976, researches Asian political and economic issues and consults for national and business risk management. For the last 20 years, they have annually surveyed 1000-2000 foreign businessmen in different countries about corruption (the highest level of corruption being a score of 10, the lowest being 0).

PERC’s 2013 report showed an increase in Korea’s place in the corruption rankings; Korea is now “the most corrupt of the developed countries in Asia, and the worst of the past 10 years.” In 2004, Korea had a score of 6.67, which went down to 4.88 in 2010 but since then has been rising to hit its highest level ever this year. This means that for foreign businessmen, the Korea of today is even less transparent than it was 10 years ago.

A PERC official said, “the more serious problem is that Korea’s leniency to corruption contributes to corruption ‘beyond Korea’s borders’. The roots of corruption in Korea stretch to the highest levels of government and business.”

Singapore has kept the title of the least corrupt country in Asia for the last 10 years, staying within a range of 0.37 to 1.30. The 2013 report rated both Japan and Australia at 2.35, Hong Kong at 3.77, and the U.S. at 3.82. China, which has emerged as the other member of the “Group of Two”, received a score of 7.79.

The negative assessment of corruption in Korea is not just a disgrace. When corruption is serious, it is perceived that there is less chance for fair competition and there are high business risks, all of which negatively affect foreign investment.

Yoon Eun-ki, head of the Korea Corruption Commission, said, “There is a report that, if the Corruption Perception Index from the Transparency International (TI) decreased by one point, GDP per capita rises by 2.64%. Singapore’s ‘economic growth miracle’, for example, was made possible by anti-corruption activities.”

Comments from Nate:


Do you know why corruption is getting worse? It’s because our media fails at its job. One of the most important roles of media is checking and exposing corruption of the leaders. The moment media begins to watch high-ranking officials’ back, the public becomes blind and manipulated. What Korean society really needs is not good politicians but journalists of strict integrity who can keep the assemblymen and high-ranking officials in check and enlighten people. As a citizen who truly loves this country, I hate to see Korea going in the wrong direction.


Not recognizing corruption is the bigger problem. Corrupt leaders and people who do not follow proper procedures in order to achieve their goals fail to overcome an insular culture based on educational, regional and blood ties. Then you can’t even dream of Korea becoming a developed country with advanced civic awareness. Even if you only cared about money and elected a president who pledged to revive the economy, has your livelihood gotten any better? Only those in power are doing well.


I can’t help but acknowledge it. I’m ashamed. We all played a part in creating a society like this. We common people need to improve our awareness first.


Even our intelligence agency influenced the election. The bad evaluation was expected, was it not? ;;;;


The worst thing the MB government did was to control the media. They blocked people’s ears and mouths. How can corruption disappear? They just went crazy in the rush to make all the corrupt deals they could. They say Korea is a developed country, but according to international media, when it comes to freedom of the press, Korea is among the most repressive OECD countries, tsk tsk.


Just what you would expect from a country where the national intelligence service turns their elite employee into a zombie who writes comments on the internet, ke.


Stupid administration….. what could you expect but filth with such filthy leadership. Worthless Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye governments.


How come Korea is a developed country? While our economy may be on the level of a developed country, the politicians’ corruption and civil awareness are on the level of not even developing but underdeveloped nations.


Park Geun-hye’s cabinet picks might have contributed to an increase in the corruption index, ke ke ke. It is an unfair society where even the Blue House is rotten. Why would you want to care about integrity? That’s why people regard the president and the National Tax Service like a joke when they have to pay taxes, tsk tsk.


This is a country where the national intelligence service fervently claims writing comments and voting them up or down on the internet is an anti-spy activity.

Comments from Naver:


I can feel it even at work.


There is still a long way to go for Korea to become a developed nation…


I’m ashamed and mad again at the gigantic corporations who made this corruption into the status quo.


It’s a country where even someone like Myung-bak can become the president!


Shameful but true. It feels bitter.


We know it. You don’t even need to say it.


It sure is rotten…You can clearly see how the nation is run by the people up there.


I felt it at work! Our country is really corrupt. ㅠㅠ


NIS albas, you guys are contributing to it. Shame on you!


Rotten places, full of parasites.

Comments from Daum:


The greatness of Lee Myung-bak-Geun-hye and the freaking Saenuri party. The presidential election was tainted in a democracy. What transparency can you expect?


Gotta acknowledge it.


Better than I expected~~


Opportunistic Park Chung-hee, who turned from a Japanese army officer to a commie to a dictator through a coup, is respected in this country. What do you expect?


I’m really envious of the Singaporeans.


They said Saenuri party needs to be in power for 10 more years to stabilize the nation. You know what that means. With 10 more years, corruption can firmly settle down and the officials can easily commit whatever crimes they wish. Foreigners know this but why are we blind? Aha, even if we know it, we blindly vote for them to be on the same boat… No hope, my corrupt country…


Not too bad.. I thought the index would be over 9..




Look at the quality of our president……….That’s Korea~~


Exactly what I have felt in life. It just shows why President Roh was great and why the Rat [Lee Myung-bak] was filthy. I feel the corruption index is increasing right now.

Comments from MLB Park:


Just what you would expect from the Republic of Chaebols. “Korea in particular ranked 2nd in Asia in the category of corporate corruption and lenient punishment for offenders.”


Koreans are so harsh on themselves.. In fact, Korea is much better off than Spain or Italy.. Even compared to Europe, except for Northern European countries, Germany, France and the UK, Korea fares well.


Expected result..Not only the top officials are corrupt in Korea.. That’s why they are tolerated..That’s why Saenuri can stay in power..Things never change. This is not the problem of the government.. It is the problem of people..


Corruption, like the collusion between politicians and businessmen in Japan, was almost like a textbook for Korea. Hereditary succession of power is ordinary there. The prime minister is openly at the top of such cliques. Look at Ishihara Shintaro for example. I don’t understand how they get such good scores.


The annual report from the NGO Transparency International is the most credible and accurate. The media just wrote a sensational article without checking on the way PERC conducted their survey and their credibility.


Even if objective indices indicate that Korea is a developed country, people are in denial using all kinds of excuses. But as soon as they read about a report from an unknown organization, they are quick to buy it and go on a rant about Korea. That looks a bit…..ke


As soon as I read that the report claims Thailand is less corrupt than Korea, I stopped reading. I bet my hand that the survey respondents haven’t really done business in Thailand. They are notorious for giving disadvantages to foreign companies. Police officers on the streets openly take bribes. Even if you want to open a small restaurant, you have to bribe at least a few places. There is a reason why there are few Koreans living in Thailand. It isn’t even allowed for foreigners to buy a house in your own name there. It is not rare for foreign businessmen who opened business in Thailand to pack up and leave due to fraud. Foreign businessmen are allowed to buy real estates only with locals together. In some cases, locals would take the property, take out a loan and run away. Whenever Koreans come across a critical report like this, they are quick to believe the whole thing and complain so much about Korea.


Malaysia is less corrupt? I wonder how they calculated the index. I think police officers and civil servants whom citizens directly meet are not really corrupt in Korea.. Maybe it’s because collusion between high-ranking officials and chaebols is so serious?


It must be because of the corporations. People don’t feel as strong about coporate corruption. With the memories of the dictatorship still fresh, they try to take privileges away from assemblymen and keep the president and local governments in check. But what’s being done about corporations?;;;


Some people seem to be unhappy with the PERC report because of the high corruption index during the administration they support. On the other hand, some other people would comfort themselves thinking the index is rather generous and Korea must have been a decent country to not receive a worse corruption index even in the 6th year of Saenuri in power. First of all, you should consider that each international organization has their own orientation. For example, there is no new value in the reports from the World Economic Forum. They just do surveys. For the case of Korea, they only survey the Federation of Korean Industries. When the report is published, Cho-Joong-Dong [Korean mainstream conservative media] write about it. As if the Roh Mu-hyun government wasn’t enterprise-friendly, for instance. Same with the Reporters Without Borders. Cho-Joong-Dong told tales that the Kim Dae-jung government was conducting a special tax audit of the media. Then the Press Freedom Index dropped even though the tax audit was allowed to be implemented every 5 years by law and it hadn’t been done for the last 20 years. As you see, those indices are subjective with many variables. It was the Grand National Party’s specialty to use this tactic to attack the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Mu-hyun governments for a decade. They never quoted anything from the renowned Brookings Institute. They always relied on American conservative Freedom House’s reports. Anyways, there are indices that are widely accepted by people and those that are not. Did Korean citizens accept the decrease in the Press Freedom Index then? Someone seems to wonder what the big deal is with the report from an unknown source from Hong Kong…but even the corruption index for Korea released by the credible Transparency International is getting worse.

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