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S. KOREANS TARGETED IN ELECTION FRAUD

SHARE S. KOREANS TARGETED IN ELECTION FRAUD

Regulators have uncovered evidence of election law violations by 20 lawmakers, enough to cost some of them their seats, South Korea's election watchdog agency said Friday.

If upheld by the courts, the findings could change the freewheeling nature of South Korean elections, marked in the past by massive fraud and vote-buying.They also could threaten the governing New Korea Party's hold on the National Assembly. Thirteen of the 20 lawmakers belong to the party led by President Kim Young-sam.

Kim's party has only a three-seat majority in the 299-member assembly.

The charges resulted from new, stiffer election laws that empower the election commission to investigate and recommend formal charges against lawmakers found involved in vote-buying and other irregularities.

Some 1,309 candidates ran in April's election, believed to be the most honest and fair in South Korean history.

Shortly after the April elections, President Kim, who has been spearheading a clean government campaign, ordered a thorough probe to make sure that those who won falsely were caught and punished.