SEOUL — President Lee Myung Bak apologized Tuesday for a string of corruption scandals implicating his relatives and allies that have undermined his political leverage in his last year in office.
His nationally televised apology came two weeks after the arrest of his elder brother, Lee Sang Deuk, on bribery charges. As the president bowed before television cameras, two of his former aides waited in a prosecutor’s office to be formally arrested later on bribery charges, joining a growing list of Lee’s acquaintances jailed for corruption.
Lee said he was so ashamed he could hardly lift his face.
“The more I think about it, the more it crushes my heart,’’ he said. ‘‘But whom can I blame now? It’s all because of my negligence.
“I bow before the people in apology.’’
It was a humiliating moment for a leader who had once praised his own government as being ‘‘morally perfect.’’
Lee offered a similar apology in January when it became evident that he would become the latest in a series of South Korean presidents in recent decades politically damaged by corruption scandals involving themselves or their relatives.