Following the 1987 democratic breakthrough, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have succeeded in gaining legitimacy as key social and political institutions in South Korea (hereafter Korea). Surveys of public perception conducted in 2001 and 2004 by the Seoul-based East Asia Institute and local Hankook Ilbo newspaper revealed that NGOs were perceived to have attained comparatively higher levels of credibility than other social and political institutions, including government organizations. The positive public perception and successful integration of NGOs into the institutional mainstream of Korean society is a phenomenal achievement. However, recent allegations of financial impropriety against an established environmental NGO have seriously tarnished the hard-won reputation of NGOs. In late 2008, leading environmental activists from the Korean Federation for Environment Movement (KFEM: hwan’gyŏng undong yŏnhap) were charged with the mismanagement of public funds received from the government and private organizations..