Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

The Bitter End for South Korea’s Leaders


By Jon Herskovitz

There is almost no such thing as a happy retirement for South Korea’s former presidents.

Former President Roh Moo-hyun, who left office a little more than a year ago, joined the club of troubled ex-leaders on Thursday when he appeared before prosecutors to answer questions about their suspicions his family received at least $1 million in bribes from a shoe company CEO.

Roh came to office pledging to clean up the South Korean presidency. Even his critics say one of his biggest achievements was to make the election process far more open and fair.

But he was not able to change what critics see as a fundamental problem with politics in South Korea — overly strict election laws. After decades of seeing bribery as commonplace in political circles, the country set up tough laws on campaign financing and other electoral reforms that have helped South Korea become one of the most vibrant democracies in Asia but have also led politicians to scramble for funds.