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South Korea tightens anti-graft law

A tough new anti-graft law came into force in South Korea on Wednesday with many hailing it as a milestone to help root out widespread low-level corruption.

Dubbed the Kim Young-Ran law after the former supreme court judge who drafted it, the legislation covers some four million public servants and employees of education institutions in the country of 50 million.

The law targets teachers bribed by parents to give better grades, journalists paid to give favourable publicity and officials bought off by businessmen to speed up bureaucratic processes. They are now banned from accepting gifts worth 50,000 won (USD 45) or more, or meals of 30,000 won or more, with offenders facing hefty fines or even a jail term.

The law prohibits the common practice among doctors and other workers at university hospitals of offering favourable treatment to acquaintances, including expedited scheduling of surgery. In the past, many people charged with receiving bribes got away with a slap on the wrist.

“We believe that the law will be a turning point to create a fair, clean society ... and to enhance our national integrity,” presidential spokesman Jung Youn-Kuk said. 
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