Are Japan and Korea more corrupt than we thought? Or are they finally cracking down on corruption that's been going on for years - a good sign?

The Livedoor scandal that's being compared to Enron highlights the need for legal reform which will clarify the interactions between government and business.

And Korean business is caught bribing politicians. "It is urgent for Samsung and other business groups to put an end to their improper connections with powerful politicians, the main obstacle to the creation of a fair and honest society." says The Korea Times.

Replace 'Samsung and other business groups' with 'scientists and universities' in the above quote and you'd be describing the recent stem cell controversy surrounding fallen-from-grace celebrity Woo-suk Hwang which caused President Roh's science and technology advisor to step down.

What else do Enron-like scandals and Hwang have in common? The economist article 'The blog in the corporate machine' this week highlights how social media (and what I have been referring to as social software) is taking transparency to the next level. Businesses have to watch what bloggers are saying or they risk seeing average Joe (despite very little resources) wreak PR havok. And apparently, blogging scientists helped reveal the discrepencies in Hwang's work.

I'm looking forward to hearing more about all this when I travel to South Korea next week. Suggestions for who to meet are always welcome. In the meantime, I look sceptically at the media coverage which first celebrated and then vilified the protagonists of this blog entry.

More about Atlas of Ideas, the project that's sending me to Korea.

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