(LEAD) Prime Minister Lee declares war on corruption
SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo declared an "all-out war" on corruption on Thursday following a recent series of graft cases involving government officials as well as businessmen.
In a high-profile case, South Korean Navy chief Hwang Ki-chul was replaced last month for alleged bribery involving the country's first indigenous salvage ship project. The state audit agency accused Hwang and a number of military officers of taking bribes before overlooking faulty parts supplied for the project.
Coupled with recent reports of several shady procurement deals, the corruption scandal has sparked skepticism over discipline and justice among government employees as well as other private sectors.
"The recent corruption cases from all sectors (of the society) indicate that they may be just the beginning of a long series of corruption to come," the prime minister said in his first statement to the nation. "Now (the government) declares an all-out war on corruption."
Lee, who served as floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, took office as the country's second-highest official last month.
"The fate of the country depends on uprooting corruption. The government will make all efforts possible and accomplish the mission at any cost."
Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo (C) declares an all-out war against corruption in his first statement to the public on March 12, 2015. (Yonhap)
The prosecution and police as well as all other law enforcement bodies will push for exceptional measures, Lee said, without elaborating.
"The government will mobilize all its powers and means to root out corruption. Stern punishment will be meted out to corrupt officials and businessmen," he said.
The prime minister said the recent bribery cases and supply of substandard military equipment are posing a threat to national security and also denounced illegal slush funds and embezzlement among industrial conglomerates.
"I also call for citizens' efforts and wisdom in the drive to make South Korea clean and transparent," Lee noted