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10/19/2016 Special > Special


Improper Solicitation and Graft Act

Prohibiting Corruption at Hanyang


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According to data from the Korean Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) in 2014, about 63 percent of Korean people believe that the Korean society is corrupt. As a member country of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), having the obligation to meet specific global standards in the political and economic sectors, South Korea has taken a brave step towards reducing corruption within public governmental institutions and in private and public schools. The following article will guide you through the newly implemented Improper Solicitation and Graft Act, also commonly referred to as the Kim Young-ran Act, and its effect on Hanyang University.

Kim Young-ran Act

In Korea, coping with corruption within public institutions was difficult with the preexisting laws, such as the Criminal Act and the Public Service Ethics Act. To enact a comprehensive law to prohibit improper solicitations and the reception of graft, the bill for the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act was first proposed in August 2012 by Kim Young-ran, the then-head of ACRC. Recently, on September 28, 2016, the law officially entered into force, establishing specific rules regarding solicitations and grafts.

Kim Young-ran (Photo courtesy of Huffington Post)
The scope of the application of this Act includes: all public institutions, private and public schools of various levels, media corporations, public officials, spouses of public officials, and the general public involved in improper solicitations. The general concept of improper solicitation is that no one should solicit, either directly or through a third party, a public official or any relevant person mentioned above.

Briefly, there are 14 types of improper solicitation in total, one being “intervening or exerting influence in the appointment, promotion, job transfer or any other personnel management of public officials…” (Article 5 of Improper Solicitation and Graft Act). Besides, there are strict guidelines in prohibiting the acceptance of financial or other advantages. According to Article 8 of the Act, the subjects can be punished if one receives any form of graft which the amount exceeds one million won at a time, or three million won in a year from the same person.

In addition to this, public officials are limited to the 3-5-10 rule, which sets a maximum limit on expenditure for food, gifts, and event fees respectively, by 30 thousand, 50 thousand, and 100 thousand won. Furthermore, disciplinary actions and penalties for those who violate the Act range from fines up to 30 million won to imprisonment for no more than two years based on the committed violations regarding improper solicitations and graft.

Law-Abiding Citizens

As expected, the Act can be applied to the school president, professors, office workers, and students of Hanyang University who are categorized as employees and members of a private educational institution. Out of the 14 types of improper solicitation that should not be violated, there are points that school members may need to take into account as a precautionary measure. It includes: trading in influence so that admission, grades, performance tests related to schools are manipulated in violation of the Act, exerting influence in the appointment of personnel into the school, trading in influence so that certain personnel wins an award or prize for outstanding performance, and much more. However, the Act is criticized for its vagueness because there are differing interpretations according to various situations. Therefore, it is important to make sure no invalid suspicions are raised regarding relationships among students, staff, and professors.

Some specific examples regarding how the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act can affect the school environment are worth going over. For instance, a professor who accepts a student’s request of credits for an absence is a violation of the Act for improper solicitation, and the professor will either be fined or imprisoned up to two years. Likewise, if a student presents a cake to a professor that is worth 15,000 won, both the student and the professor will be breaking the Act if the event leads to some sort of academic advantage for the student. Lastly, part-time professors will also be subject to the Act, starting from the beginning of 2018 which is when the revision of the Act enters into force.  

Many are concerned about the Act possibly breaking some close relations among students, staff, and professors. Questions are also raised concerning the monitoring of all personal affairs in order to prevent improper solicitation and grafts. These issues must be resolved to avoid corruption from rooting deeply within the school. Yet, the success of the Act lies on the fact that the government is working towards creating a transparent society. Hopefully, Hanyang University will set an example by abiding by the law in all circumstances.
The Improper Solicitation and Graft Act will reduce corruption within the society.
(Photo courtesy of News Chosun)

Park Min-young
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