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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 10)

All Headlines 07:10 January 10, 2017

Fixing graft law

Laws occasionally need revisions to cover shortfalls. The new anti-corruption law, better known as the Kim Young-ran Act after the judge who proposed it, needs no changes, for now.

Ahead of the Jan. 27 to 30 Sollal or Lunar New Year holiday, there are mounting calls to tinker with the parts of the law to raise the upper price limits on meals, gifts and cash donations for weddings and funerals.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, acting on the behalf of impeached President Park Geun-hye, ordered "rational" ways of revising them to be found, while receiving a joint report from economy-related ministries last week. The flower and beef industries have taken a direct hit from the drop in sales of their products that are top gift items and are vocal in their opposition to the law.

The law has barely been in force 100 days since its Sept. 28 implementation. To revise it, there should be an overall assessment over a longer period of time to discover its flaws and gain a consensus for rectifying them.

Revising the law on a piecemeal basis without adequate grounds also runs the risk of making it obsolete. The affected industries, "victims" of the law, should be assisted through state programs. Prime Minister Hwang should be reminded of why society approved the law in the first place despite all immediate inconveniences ― to bring more transparency to society and uproot the culture of corruption once and for all.

Supporting the government, the state-run Korea Development Institute (KDI) suggested a rise in the 30,000 won ceiling for meals, arguing that it was calculated under 2003 prices so needs to reflect inflation. Such an argument only undermines the government's credibility when it is most needed to get the law to take root.

Some people may find it difficult to keep their dinner tab under 30,000 won, gifts under 50,000 won and wedding gift and funeral condolence money under 100,000 won. This shouldn't be any excuse for a change, considering corruption is the very reason why President Park was impeached.
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