Asia

South Korea PM Lee Wan-koo offers to resign over scandal

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Wan-Koo (C) reacts as he is blocked by family members of the victims of the sunken South Korean ferry Sewol outside a remembrance hall in Ansan on 16 April 2015. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Lee (centre) denies accepting 30 million won in illegal campaign funds

South Korea's Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo has offered to resign after facing accusations of accepting bribes, just two months into his post.

Mr Lee denies accepting 30 million won ($27,700; £18,600) in illegal campaign funds from businessman Sung Wan-jong.

A note left by Sung, who died in an apparent suicide earlier this month, listed eight figures he claimed to have bribed, including Mr Lee.

President Park Geun-hye has called for a "thorough investigation".

She is due to decide on his resignation after she returns from Peru where she is on a state visit.

Under South Korean law, politicians cannot accept more than 100,000 won in contributions.

Mr Lee had denied knowing Sung, the boss of a construction company, very well, but media reports have suggested otherwise. Sung, who was himself under investigation for corruption, was found earlier this month hanging from a tree by his tie.

Sung told a local newspaper before his death that he gave 30 million won to Mr Lee in 2013 when he was seeking re-election for parliament.

He was about to be questioned by authorities over allegations that he embezzled company money to bribe politicians.

An opposition party has called for Mr Lee's impeachment.

Decision next week

Referring to Mr Lee's resignation, Ms Park said in a written statement: "I find it regrettable. I also feel sympathy for the agony of the prime minister."

Yonhap reported that she would decide on whether to accept Mr Lee's resignation by next week.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Ms Park, seen here with Peru's President Ollanta Humala, is currently on a state visit in the South American country

Mr Lee filled the number two position of prime minister after a protracted hunt for a candidate to replace his predecessor, Chung Hong-won.

Mr Chung resigned shortly after the Sewol ferry disaster in April 2014 that killed more than 300 people.

He was kept on for several months as Ms Park looked for a successor. Two candidates withdrew their candidacies after being accused of wrongdoing, before the job went to Mr Lee.

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