South Korea bribery scandal
South Korean PM Lee Wan-koo offers to step down over bribery scandalChung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo has offered to quit over the snowballing bribery scandal in which he is allegedly involved.

President Park Geun-hye has not said whether she is accepting Lee's resignation. Lee will remain as premier until Park acknowledges his resignation. Nonetheless, the prime minister's office has temporarily transferred his role of chairing cabinet meetings to his deputy.

Lee has been accused of accepting a bribe of 30 million won (£18,600) during his election campaign when he was running for a parliamentary seat. In the high-profile scandal, which rocked South Korea, several other top former and current top political figures, who are close to President Park, have also been named.

"The prosecution should clearly shed light on everything by conducting a thorough investigation," the South Korean president said in a statement. "I feel the agony of the prime minister."

Before leaving for an official trip to Central and South America, Park said: "Corruption and deep-rooted evil are issues that can lead to taking away people's lives. We take this very seriously."

"We must make sure to set straight this issue as a matter of political reform. I will not forgive anyone who is responsible for corruption or wrongdoing."

Calls for Lee's exit gained momentum after South Korean tycoon Sung Woan-jong was found hanging from a tree on 9 April in an apparent suicide. He was to be grilled by investigators for reportedly siphoning off company funds to politicians through illegal means.

A suicide note was found in Sung's pocket listing the names of several people including Lee. Numbers, which appeared to refer to amounts paid to politicians, were also written across the names.