Updated March. 14, 2014 00:24
Nearly 300 members of the 19th National Assembly collected a combined total of 38.2 billion won (35.8 million U.S. dollars) in political funds last year. On average, the 298 members raised 128.16 million won (120,037 dollars) per person on average, just short of the legal limit of 150 million won (140,449 dollars).
According to tallies by the National Election Commission on Thursday, lawmakers of the ruling Saenuri Party raised a combined 19.55 billion won (18.3 million dollars) in 2013, while those of the main opposition Democratic Party collected 16.27 billion won (15.3 million dollars) in total. Saenuri lawmakers raised 126.94 million won (118,914 dollars) per person on average, whereas the opposition party legislators raked in 129.12 million won (120,787 won) on personal average.
Minor opposition party lawmakers raised more money per person than their peers at the two major parties. Lawmakers of the Justice Party and the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) collected 155.99 million won (146,067 dollars) and 144.87 million won (135,768 dollars) per person, respectively. Although the UPP has come under fire for its pro-North Korean inclinations amid one of its lawmaker`s indictment on rebel charges, the party raised 869.24 million won (813,670 dollars) in 2013, more than double the amount raised in the previous year. The indicted lawmaker Lee Seok-ki raised 146.58 million won (137,640 dollars), while Kim Jae-yeon, also a UPP lawmaker, garnered 145.6 million won (136,704 dollars). Kim raised 63 times more money last year than in 2012.
Most key members of the ruling party lawmakers close to President Park Geun-hye and the party`s potential presidential contenders raised funds to or close to the legal ceiling. Yoon Sang-hyun, the party`s senior deputy floor leader, and Kim Jae-won, its chief strategist, raised more funds than the legal limit, while its floor leader Choi Kyung-hwan almost reached the ceiling. Suh Chung-won, who returned to the parliament by winning a by-election in October, raised 74 million won (69,288 dollars) in just about two months.
By comparison, the amounts raised by Chung Mong-joon and Lee Jae-oh who are non-mainstream members of Saenuri fell far short of the ceiling.
Potential presidential runners Ahn Cheol-soo of the New Political Vision Party and the Democratic Party`s Moon Jae-in also raised funds to the limit.