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Antigraft gift ceiling partly raised

Agriculture, livestock and marine goods now have 100,000 won cap
Dec 12,2017
The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, which oversees the antigraft law for public officials, teachers and journalists, unanimously approved a motion Monday to raise the spending limits on gifts as long as they are agriculture, livestock or marine goods, as the restrictions have taken a toll on related industries.

Under the change, presents that are “agricultural, marine or livestock goods, or a processed good that’s at least 50 percent composed of an agricultural, marine or livestock base” will have their caps raised from the current 50,000 won ($46) to 100,000 won.

The increase will not apply to other presents.

The commission has also decided to lower the limit for receiving cash for a wedding or funeral from 100,000 won to 50,000 won.

Details of the amendment will be announced by the commission today at noon at the Government Seoul Complex in Gwanghwamun. If all goes well, the revised act will go into effect by early next year, hopefully before Korea celebrates Lunar New Year, or Seollal, on Feb. 16, one of the country’s two largest gift-giving holidays, alongside Chuseok, the harvest festival.

A motion to revise the law, also known as the Kim Young-ran Act, was initially put to vote on Nov. 27, but struck down the same day after several committee members opposed the plan.

The motion required a majority vote to pass, with more than half of the commission’s 14 commissioners present, excluding the vacant secretary general seat. All 14 people attended the Monday meeting and approved unanimously.

The law, which went into effect on Sept. 28, 2016, takes its name from a former chief of the commission who authored its initial draft.

Farmers in the livestock, agricultural and marine industries widely welcomed the decision, but Park Myeong-gab, vice president of a flower town in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang, lamented that it still wasn’t enough to help his business get back on track.

“Customers aren’t buying flowers anymore,” said Park, adding that the society has framed a negative image around the plants after the Kim Young-ran Law went into effect, linking it to the “act of soliciting.”

Park added, “Flower baskets that used to sell for 100,000 won in the past are now down to 39,000 won, and I do this by mixing in artificial flowers. It’s the end for Korea’s flower business.”

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, KIM HO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]