March 13, 2006

S.Korea PM offers to quit over golfing gaffe

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan
offered on Tuesday to resign for playing golf with business
executives while a national railway strike was causing
transport chaos, media reports said.

Several newspapers and politicians have called on Lee to
resign for failing to attend to the strike and instead play
golf with a group that included a businessman who had been
convicted of financial crimes and another under investigation
for price fixing.

Lee, a five-term legislator and prime minister since June
2004, was largely responsible for the daily running of domestic
policy from President Roh Moo-hyun and was considered one of
the most powerful premiers in the country's history.

South Korean media, including Yonhap news agency and the
YTN television network, reported Lee offered his resignation to
Roh, citing government sources.

Roh, who returned to South Korea on Tuesday from a
three-nation tour of Africa, will take his time to consider
accepting the resignation, they said.

Lee had apologized for "careless" conduct. His reported
offer to resign comes at a time when Roh is battling the lowest
support ratings for his administration since it took power in

Lee was criticized previously for playing golf when South
Korea had trouble mobilizing firefighters to extinguish a
forest fire that engulfed a historic temple and again when
large parts of the country were battling floods.