South Korea
Publication Date: 
May, 2014

Prior to the establishment of the Anti-corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) in 2002, successive governments in Korea implemented extensive anti-corruption institutional reforms. While these efforts reduced the level of corruption, it remains relatively high compared to other G20 countries. Nevertheless, the major institutional reforms implemented from1993 to 2007 helped lay a solid foundation for the ACRC to carry out its functions and combat corruption effectively. The aim of this review is to examine the ACRC’s effectiveness based on closed-end diagnostic questionnaires along with in-depth interviews with the ACRC division management and other relevant personnel and other pertinent parties. The ACRC’s effectiveness is evaluated based on indicators that may be used to assess the effectiveness of preventive Anti-corruption Authorities (ACAs) and the prerequisite conditions necessary for the success of ACAs. The findings of the review show that the ACRC has employed several innovative instruments to fight and prevent corruption effectively. Moreover, it has managed to track the level of corruption and initiate corrective measures to combat corruption-prone areas. Since its establishment in 2002, high-level political support for the ACRC has been constant and strong, as evidenced by implementation of complementary anti-corruption reforms, consistent budgets, implementation of ACRC- suggested codes of conduct and other anti-corruption corrective measures by the central government, local governments, parliament, and government cooperation and enterprises. However, because the ACRC currently focuses more on middle and lower-level public officials it does not cover all aspects of the public sector. In order to do so, its activities should also target high-ranking officials. Furthermore, in addition to combating petty corruption, it must also make efforts to fight and prevent grand corruption as well. Moreover, it should try to include the private sector in its target group, given the fact that one of the main sources of corruption in Korea is related to close ties between business and government.