Korea's law agencies ranked most corrupt

SOUTH KOREA - Prosecutors, police and judges scored the lowest points among state organisations in the transparency index compiled by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission.

The survey, which evaluated 627 government organisations, showed that the Ministry of Justice received the lowest grade on the five-level grading scale among the central administrative agencies.

About 244,000 participants including citizens, public officers, reporters and civil activists were surveyed for the report.

Administrative agencies that received the fourth grade, which is the second lowest, include the Korean Intellectual Property Office, Ministry of National Defence, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and the Ministry of Government Legislation obtained the top grade.

None of the 16 city and provincial governments, excluding that of Sejong City, received the highest transparency grade.

The Seoul and Busan City governments were given the fourth, while Jeju Province received the fifth grade, the lowest.

Law enforcement and regulatory agencies did not fair better with the National Tax Service, National Police Agency, and the Supreme Prosecutors' Office gaining the lowest grade.

The average for public agencies was the third grade.

"Those agencies which have been marked with low integrity levels will be asked to prepare a plan to improve their integrity levels, and will be monitored to see whether they stick to the plan," the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission said in a statement.

The two law enforcement agencies have recently been tangled up in sex and bribery scandals.

Recently surfaced scandals involving prosecutors include the case of a high ranking prosecutor taking over 900 million won (S$1.02 million) from notorious conman Cho Hee-pal and several other conglomerates.

The case, which triggered conflict over investigative power between the two law enforcement agencies, was followed by the case of a 30-year-old prosecutor having sexual relations with a suspect.

The investigation into the latter case led to the prosecutor being indicted on charges of bribery, a decision which has incited criticism in and out of the prosecutors' office about its legitimacy.

"I deeply apologised for the concerns and disappointment to the public," Prosecutor-General Han Sang-dae said last week, promising the reform of the prosecution.

Meanwhile, a 50-year-old police officer was charged with having sex for over two years with a teenager who had run away from home.

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