Can money and politics ever be separated in South Korea? Despite repeated pledges by leaders over the years to sever the collusive ties between business and politics, the two seem to be inextricably intertwined in Korean society. The latest evidence of this collusion is last year's presidential election. Both the ruling and opposition parties claimed that it was the cleanest presidential vote in history, with the least amount of money spent on the campaigns. The ruling Millennium Democratic Party said a large portion of its campaign money came from ordinary citizens. Supporters of Roh Moo-hyun, in fact, donated many 'hope' piggy banks filled with small change. All other campaign funds, the party said, were also legally donated. But it turns out that a significant portion of the funds was not clean money. It was recently revealed that a property developer, Good Morning City, paid a large amount of dubious money to political groups during the campaigning. It seems many political leaders were beneficiaries of giant payoffs - perhaps exceeding US$1 million - from Good Morning City. Its CEO has been arrested on various fraud charges. The money it donated to politicians was allegedly raised through fraudulent schemes. This shocked ordinary people, who are suffering from a serious economic downturn. South Koreans were especially surprised to hear about these large illegal money transactions because the so-called internet politics that swayed the results of last year's election was touted as a new way of achieving an inexpensive democracy. Politically and socially conscious voters, particularly young ones, participated in cyber democracy in the form of e-mails and chat-room discussions, hoping to influence the larger group of offline voters. Mr Roh's election in December was largely made possible by fervent internet users, who passionately promoted him to the general public. Other countries studied the election as the first true instance of electronic democracy, which could potentially revolutionise global politics. That distinction may now go down in flames with this latest money politics scandal. The case shows that South Korean politics is still a murky business filled with misconduct and irregularities. In a country where politics tends to dictate what happens in all other sectors, such as business and culture, the backward nature of political behaviour casts dark shadows over the country's future. It is time for both the governing and opposition parties to get together and discuss ways to put an end to the collusive business-politics ties once and for all.