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From One-Stop Graft to Costly Corruption Webs: Democratisation and Shifting Patterns of Corruption in Korea

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Abstract Democratisation has brought a new, riskier pattern of corruption to Korea. More groups and institutions have secured a role in a more inclusive democratic policy making process. As a result, corruption schemes now require the consent of a wide and diverse set of veto players, often including the political opposition, producing expansive democratic ‘corruption webs’. The key democratic element of competition for votes rewards opposition members in the web for blowing the whistle. Increased likelihood of exposure and punishment deter many from corruption, which has subsequently declined in Korea under democracy, as measured by perception polls, experience surveys and objective measures of elite rent exchange. The Roh Moo-hyeon NACF scandals demonstrate that democratic corruption webs also mitigate damage from scandals — forcing participants to limit rent exchange to minimise exposure to clean veto players. Democratic oversight ensures that even bribe-taking officials implement policy according to publicly-declared objectives. Finally, competition for votes encourages timely exposure of democratic corruption rackets.

Affiliations: 1: Keimyung University


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