2017-09-12 20:19
Kangwon Land admits massive corruption
Members of civic groups demand the resignation of Rep. Kweon Seong-dong of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party at Gangneung City Hall, Gangwon Province, Tuesday. / Yonhap

By Jung Min-ho

Casino operator Kangwon Land has admitted that almost everyone who got their jobs there between 2012 and 2013 did so thanks to their connections with politicians and the former CEO of the company.

“We apologize for committing a crime which would have been possible only in the 1960s or '70s,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

But Kangwon Land pointed the finger at former CEO Choi Heung-jip, who led the state-run company from July 2011 to February 2014, saying he made the decision to hire 518 people during that period.

The company said 493 of them (95 percent) ended up with jobs thanks to their connections with politicians and other influential people.

Among them was a former intern of Rep. Kweon Seong-dong of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, which was the ruling party when the misconduct occurred.

“A thing of the past is tarnishing the image of Kangwon Land, which has been trying hard to improve its transparency in recent years,” the company said. “It breaks the hearts of all employees and we are very sorry.”

Chances are that the scandal will continue to break their hearts. The ruling Democratic Party named it “Kangwon Land Gate,” urging the prosecution to reinvestigate the case as well as the politicians involved in it.

In 2015, prosecutors closed the case after indicting only Choi and a human resources official.

Ruling party lawmakers, including Park Beom-kye, alleged that the prosecution did not look deeply enough into the case to help corrupt lawmakers cover it up at that time.

The Justice Party also criticized Kangwon Land, Kwon and the prosecution.

“This is an unimaginable corruption scandal involving a state-run company, which is funded by taxpayer money,” the party spokesman Choi Suk said. “Kwon belonged to an Assembly committee that is supposed to oversee the company until early 2012.”

“Other applicants didn’t have the same chances of success … prosecutors should reopen the case to reveal the whole truth.”