[EDITORIALS]Clean up Kangwon casino

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[EDITORIALS]Clean up Kangwon casino

Kangwon Land, the only casino in Korea that admits Koreans, is again the subject of criticism because of business irregularities. Under the umbrella of favoritism that protects its interest as the only casino for Koreans, Kangwon has became the goose that lays golden eggs. But instead of contributing to reviving the economy of the community that used to be dependent on a now closed mine, Kangwon has stirred a series of controversies for its alleged mismanagement.

According to a government audit report, Kangwon Land posted 361.2 billion won ($300 million) in operating profits on 462 billion won in revenues last year. But what support the casino provided to the community of a deserted mine was confined to the total of 80.6 billion won: 31.8 billion won for the provincial government, 44.8 billion won as tourism promotional funds and 4 billion won for local cooperation projects.

In contrast, piecework compensation for executives at the casino has been raised 26 times during the past two years, and overseas "business" travel by executives has surged every year. Even "business" trips for the same purpose have been taken 16 times. Although piecework compensation supplements relatively low wages of Kangwon Land workers, the casino deserves criticism that it has focused more on improving the welfare of staffers at the expense of regional development.

The problem does not end there. The government inspection found that because of involvement of powerful figures from the ruling camp, supervision has been hampered. Relatives of ruling party magnets, whose working at the casino became a problem, still work there. Personnel management that favors certain regions or political camps must be addressed, the audit report pointed out. Behind the booming business of Kangwon Land lie side effects of social significance, such as addiction to gambling and subsequent collapse of families.

We must not leave Kangwon Land in a swamp of corporate misappropriations. The government must renovate the management of the casino and come up with countermeasures against side effects of operating a place for gambling before the facility's main casino opens next year.
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