[EDITORIALS]A lawmaker’s 5 chipsThe news report about the National Assemblyman, Song Young-jin of Our Open Party, who was spotted gambling on the U.S. military compound over the weekend, was repulsive. With illegal election fund-raising and other corruption, people are pointing fingers at politicians. Such behavior by a National Assemblyman only increases distrust and disgust toward politicians.
The gambling is a fund-raising activity held occasionally at the UN Command compound, a U.S. Army spokesman said, and winnings can be exchanged only for gift certificates or prizes, not for cash. Representative Song said, “This was my first time there, and I did not engage in a large amount of gambling or in habitual gambling.” He said, “I lost all my money playing blackjack with five chips that cost one hundred dollars apiece.” But even if Mr. Song had gone to the casino only once, the very fact that he went into the US Eighth Army base, where outsiders are forbidden to enter, is a problem.
Look at the situation of our neighbors. The grief of the ordinary people has deepened with the prolonged recession and economic hardship. Moreover, because of restructuring, more and more heads of households are being pushed to the streets while young people find it impossible to get jobs. At this time, there is just no excuse for a National Assemblyman to go to a place he is forbidden to go to ― to a place he must not go to ― and do a thing he must not do.
Then there is the issue of gambling at the U.S. base. Persons without a U.S. military ID are not allowed to enter, in principle, but supposedly last week there were only 10 non-Koreans among the 100 visitors at the Monte Carlo night. The South Korea-US Combined Forces Command said, “Although Korean nationals are forbidden to enter, they stubbornly persist on coming in and it is difficult to control them.” This could only mean that the “control” is superficial. The base makes money by accepting Korean customers.
If the U.S. base wants to make money through such activities, it should think again. If it continues with these operations, negative perceptions of the U.S. military will increase.