Monday, September 12, 2011

Secret of How to Get Rich in Korea Revealed

The secret of how to get rich in Korea was revealed last week as Seoul's elected education chief appeared to be implicated in a scheme to pay a rival candidate 200 million won ($187,000) to pull out of the election race. 57 year-old Kim initially tried to duck questions about the payment, claiming it was a goodwill gesture and that "it's regrettable that my goodwill is being misunderstood".

He said his rival had run up considerable debts as part of his election campaign, and he was just trying to help out as any citizen would do, adding that he never sought any recognition for his selfless act of charity, which is why he insisted on not giving the money to his political rival directly, but rather through a series of six installments via a middleman. But some people have tried to cynically portray the sudden and unexpected withdrawal of Kim's rival from the election race just two weeks before the vote as being somehow linked to the 200 million won goodwill gesture.

It has not been a good month for Kim. In August he lost a long-running battle over providing free meals to schoolchildren to his rival, 50 year-old conservative Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon. Oh had cast himself as an 'anti-populism warrior', accusing Kim of being a closet populist. In an attempt to deflect the populist label, Kim urged his supporters not to participate in the vote, but later when the bribery allegations emerged and an arrest warrant was sought, he surprised people by pledging to not to quit, apparently confirming that he really had been an ardent populist, all along. An arrest warrant has now been issued for Kim.

Whatever the outcome of the legal case, if the National Election Commission decides the vote for Seoul Education Superintendent needs to be re-held, the field is expected to be much wider. 160,000 Seoul citizens have already announced their candidacy, with many more expected to follow. But experts have warned that running for election in Korea is not necessarily a get rich quick scheme, and many are expected to run up debts which may result in them seeking the goodwill of fellow candidates.

There may be further problems ahead for liberal politicians in Seoul. The Grand National Party says it holds a patent in Korea covering "cash payments made indirectly via third-parties for the purposes of directly linked subsequent gain in a political context", and intellectual property lawyers are expected to take the Democratic Party to court as soon as this week seeking an injunction to prevent them bribing anyone else in Korea.

Related Links
Kwak insists payment was 'goodwill' gesture
Park denies making shady deal with Kwak
Top Seoul educator pledges not to quit

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