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Local Graft Infects South Korea

Kim Hak-kyu could become the fifth consecutive mayor of Yongin in Gyeonggi Province to be punished for bribery.

He allegedly accepted rent and tax reimbursements worth $132,000 during his campaign. His wife allegedly took $135,00 from seven businessmen to finance her husband's run for mayor. The mayor's son allegedly took $75,000 from two builders in exchange for help winning two contracts from the city government.

The Korea Herald said the wife and son are in jail being interrogated. When that's done, the police plan to call in the mayor to hear his story.

'If punished,' the newspaper said, 'Kim will become the fifth consecutive mayor of Yongin to receive criminal punishment for bribery and other wrongdoings.'

*     *     *

In the nearby city of Seongnam, the story said, citizens are hoping their current mayor 'does not follow in the footsteps of his four predecessors, who were jailed on corruption charges.'

More than four in ten mayors of small cities, wards, and counties elected since 2006 have faced criminal charges for election violations or corruption, the story said. And nearly ten percent of all local councilors then have been convicted.

The Korea Herald cited high campaign costs and resulting debt as a reason for the flood of local corruption cases.

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