Send to

Saenuri members dominate rich list

March 23, 2012 - 19:54 By Korea Herald
Lawmakers of the ruling Saenuri Party were far wealthier than their peers in the opposition, government data showed Friday.

According to the data from the National Assembly, Saenuri Rep. Chung Mong-joon was by far the richest lawmaker in Korea last year with 2.227 trillion won ($1.96 billion) in assets, although the amount was 1.648 trillion won less than a year ago.

The sixth-term lawmaker is son of the late Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-young and the largest shareholder of Hyundai Heavy Industries & Construction Co., the world’s biggest shipyard.

Second- and third-wealthiest were Reps. Kim Ho-yeon and Kim Se-yeon, reporting 225 billion won and 114.5 billion won in personal assets, respectively. The two are both Saenuri members and former businessmen.

Nine of the top 10 wealthiest legislators were Saenuri members.

The average wealth of Saenuri lawmakers came in at 17.3 billion won, nine times higher than that of the main opposition Democratic United Party members, which stood at 1.9 billion won.

The Saenuri average excluding Chung was 5.1 billion won and the figure excluding Chung and two Kims was 3 billion won.

The poorest was Rep. Lee Myoung-soo of the ultra-conservative minority Liberty Forward Party, reporting 40 million won. Rep. Kim Sun-dong of the leftist Unified Progressive Party reported his personal wealth to be 57 million won.

Rep. Park Geun-hye, Saenuri chairwoman who leads a pack of presidential candidates in polls, had 2.1 billion won in reported assets.

Overall, half of the 293 sitting lawmakers, or 146, reported a rise in their personal wealth. The other half, or 147 lawmakers, suffered a drop in assets, mainly due to a decline in the value of stocks they own and a drop in political donations.

In Korea, lawmakers, senior government officials, senior judges and heads of municipalities are obliged to report their personal wealth every year under an anti-corruption law.

President Lee Myung-bak and first lady Kim Yoon-ok also disclosed changes in their personal wealth.

The first couple reported their wealth to be 5.8 billion won in 2011, up 300 million won from a year ago. The increase was attributed to a $500,000 prize money that Lee received along with Zayed International Prize for the Environment from the United Arab Emirates in March last year.

The country’s 17 Cabinet members had personal assets of 1.62 billion won on average. Agriculture Minister Suh Kyu-yong reported the largest amount of 3.34 billion won, followed by Public Administration and Security Minister Maeng Hyung-kyu at 3.06 billion won.

Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik reported 1.18 billion won.

In the judicial sector, Supreme Court Justice Yang Sung-tae reported 3.2 billion won, while Justice Minister Kwon Jae-jin 2.4 billion won and Prosecutor-General Han Sang-dae 2.5 billion won.

By Lee Sun-young (