South Korean Prime Minister Lee Wan Koo offers to resign | News | DW | 21.04.2015
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South Korean Prime Minister Lee Wan Koo offers to resign

A scandal triggered by the suicide of a prominent businessman has ensnared South Korean Prime Minister Lee Wan Koo. Lee has tendered his resignation after being threatened with impeachment.

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Wan Koo offered to resign his post over a bribery scandal involving high-ranking members of President Park Geun-hye's administration, government officials said Tuesday.

"We have confirmed that Prime Minister Lee has conveyed his will to resign," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a presidential official as saying.

President Park is currently on a trip to Latin America and said she would formally decide whether to accept Lee's resignation when she returned to South Korea next week.

"I find it regrettable. I also feel sympathy for the agony of the prime minister," Park said in a written statement from Lima, Peru.

Lee has only been in his position for two months. He tendered his resignation late Monday after South Korea's main opposition party said it would seek to impeach him over a bribery scandal.

"Citizens cannot wait any more," said Moon Jae-In, leader of the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD). "Our party will push for a bill to dismiss him."

Allegations of bribery

The scandal in question concerns a note found in the pocket of bankrupt construction company executive Sung Wan-jong after he had committed suicide. The note listed the names of eight people including Lee and presidential chief of staff Lee Byung Kee, alongside numbers that are suspected of being bribery figures.

Sung committed suicide immediately before he was scheduled to be questioned by prosecutors over allegations he embezzled company money to bribe politicians and other government officials.

Lee is alleged to have received 30 million won (25.7 thousand euros) in campaign funds from Sung.

President Park has pledged to punish anyone found to be involved in the scandal. Lee for his part has denied all the allegations against him and said he would "lay down" his life if investigators found evidence he accepted bribes.

The post of prime minister in South Korea is largely ceremonial, with most powers concentrated in the executive.

bw/cmk (Reuters, AFP)

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