1 in 3 candidates up for April elections possess criminal record: civic group

Nearly one in three candidates for the April 10 parliamentary elections possess a criminal record, and their average asset holdings amount to 2.44 billion won (US$1.8 million), a civic group said Thursday. The Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice disclosed the findings involving the assets and criminal records of 952 candidates. Of them, 305 candidates or 32 percent were found to be criminal record holders, a slight increase from 27 percent in the 2020 elections. "There were many candidates who possessed criminal records and assets that substantially exceeded the public average," the group said during a press briefing. "The insufficient examination of candidates during the nomination process placed the burden on voters to weed out the unqualified candidates." By party, 100 candidates of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) and its satellite party, or 36.2 percent of 276 candidates, had criminal records, while the ruling People Power Party (PPP) and its satellite party had 59 candidates with crimin al records out of 289 candidates. The civic group, however, noted that a large chunk of candidates from the DP and Justice Party likely obtained a criminal record during the pro-democracy movement under the past authoritarian government, adding the specific type of crime should also be considered. The average reported assets per candidate amounted to 2.44 billion won, up from the 1.5 billion won reported during the 2020 parliamentary elections, according to the same data. It includes 1.57 billion won in real estate assets, 690 million won in financial assets and 1.52 million won in virtual assets. Pointing to the increase in the number of criminal record holders and average assets of candidates, Kim Sung-dal, the secretary general of the civic group, denounced the nominations as "out of touch with public expectations." The civic group called on each party to apologize for such poor nominations and urged them to come up with measures to strengthen the vetting criteria of candidates in the future. Source: Yonhap News Agency