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South Korea president seeks end to corruption

South Korea president seeks end to corruption
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) met with global anti-corruption chief Huguette Labelle on Wednesday. File Photo by Yonhap

Feb. 5 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said his administration's goal is to eliminate corruption and bring South Korea into the ranks of the world's top 20 least corrupt countries.

Moon made the remarks during a meeting in Seoul with Huguette Labelle, chairwoman of the International Anti-Corruption Conference Council, South Korean news service Newsis reported Wednesday.

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Labelle is in South Korea in preparation for the 19th IACC conference, which will take place from June 2 to 5 in Seoul at the COEX Center.

The anti-corruption conference takes place with Transparency International as its secretariat. TI publishes the annual Corruption Perceptions Index.

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On Tuesday, Labelle invited Moon to speak at the June conference. A potential Moon speech about tackling corruption at IACC would help South Korea to regain the trust of its government around the world, Labelle said, according to Newsis.

The global anti-corruption chief also said South Korea's corruption perception index ranking has improved in the past three years.

In 2019, South Korea ranked 39 out of a total 180 countries on the index, up from No. 45 in 2018 and No. 51 in 2017. North Korea, by contrast, ranked No. 172 in 2019.

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Moon credited the national drive to make a more "transparent and clean society" as the reason for the improved ranking after he assumed office. Moon became president in 2017 after the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye on corruption charges.

In January, the South Korean president called for the creation of a special anti-corruption investigation unit to probe scandals that implicate senior prosecutors and police officers, according to Yonhap.

Moon's office recently denied alleged involvement in election interference in the city of Ulsan, where a ruling party politician won the mayoral race in 2018. Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae recently replaced top prosecutors investigating the elections.

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