IN most countries, the dismissal of a senior minister for suspected corruption would be interpreted as signifying either malaise at the top or a power struggle. In South Korea, by contrast, the resignation of Labour Minister Lee Hyong-koo suggests things are going well. As South Korea underwent rapid industrialisation in the 1970s and early 1980s, businessmen and politicians enjoyed a co-operative relationship. At that time, ordinary Koreans expected members of the elite to receive corrupt payments. President Kim Young-sam, who was then in opposition, has surprised even his closest supporters with a no-holds-barred anti-corruption campaign that has transformed the country's political life. At first, Mr Kim was perceived as focusing on his opponents inside and outside the military but he has since demonstrated such vigour and persistence in his campaign that it appears no one is immune, with the exception of former presidents. Mr Lee is under investigation for allegedly receiving bribes from numerous companies in return for low-interest loans in his previous capacity as governor of the Korea Development Bank. The probe is the first of an incumbent cabinet minister and surfaced as Mr Lee was tackling a bitter labour dispute at Hyundai Motors. The swiftness with which Mr Kim responded to the allegations was impressive: within hours of the probe surfacing, he let it be known that he would accept Mr Lee's resignation. The president was right to act quickly: even the perception of corruption can have an adverse impact on an administration. Like anyone else, Mr Lee is entitled to be considered innocent until, or if, proved guilty. But any cabinet minister who has become a political liability must be prepared to step down in order to protect the integrity of the administration. Mr Kim is setting an examplethat other nations should follow.