[EDITORIALS]Power and gambling

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[EDITORIALS]Power and gambling

Who made this country into a republic of gambling? There are over 15,000 pseudo-gaming businesses, which awarded over 23 trillion won ($23.9 billion) worth of gift certificates as prizes between August last year and June. Because those gift certificates, which are converted to cash by entrepreneurs near the gambling halls, are given only to winners, it is staggering to think of how much cash is poured into gambling.
It is a pity that the prosecutors and the Board of Audit and Inspection started investigations of the adult arcade chain Sea Story only after a suicide and bankruptcies made it a social issue. The investigation began only after a scandal broke out, possibly involving the president’s nephew and strong supporters. Some worry that the investigations will be only a whitewash.
The National Assembly announced that it would investigate the scandal also. Let’s hope that it can look at the fundamentals of the gambling laws and public policy.
There are many questions in this case. Chung Dong-chae, the former culture minister, and Yoo Jin-ryoung, the fired vice minister, both opposed giving a seal of approval to the arcades, and there are questions about how and why the Korea Media Rating Board approved them. We must find out whether there was any illegal lobbying or oppression by the administration. We also want to know the circumstances behind the changes to laws regulating gift certificates.
But we mainly want to know about the connections between this gambling business and Roh Ji-won, a nephew of President Roh Moo-hyun. Yesterday, the Blue House denied strongly rumors of any such connection. So we wonder how President Roh’s nephew’s name appeared as an executive in the business and received huge amounts of stock options if he played no critical role.
Explanations of why Mr. Roh Ji-won resigned from his job are also inconsistent. This matter should be looked into further and explained to the people’s satisfaction.
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