BOK governor bashed for trips

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BOK governor bashed for trips

The top executive at the central bank is coming under fire for taking excessive numbers of overseas trips at a time when the economy is facing one of its biggest challenges since the global credit crunch in late 2008 as growth looks set to slow this year.

According to a report released by Hong Jong-hak, a Democratic United Party lawmaker, Bank of Korea Gov. Kim Choong-soo has spent roughly one-quarter of his working time abroad over the last two and a half years, which critics say has left him out of tune with what is happening at home. The average length of each trip was four days.

Between April 2010 and June this year, Kim made 43 overseas trips. He made five more between July and September, including attending a general meeting of the Bank for International Settlement in Switzerland last month.

This is far more than his predecessors Lee Seung-tae and Park Seung, who made 29 and 32, respectively, during their four-year terms. Lee served as the central bank governor until March 2010, while Park served until March 2006.

Since taking office in 2010, Kim has worked 821 days of which 209 were spent abroad. He spent a total of 540 million won ($484,900) traveling overseas for work, or 2.58 million won per day outside the country. In contrast, Lee spent 260 million won over four years.

“The central bank argues that the business trips are inevitable due to Korea’s improved standing in the global community and the increased number of international meetings and conferences this merits, but the question is how many of these trips have yielded results,” Hong said.

In a statement, the central bank said the governor traveled alone on most of the trips to keep costs down, which freed up money for lower-rung employees to take more business trips.

The lawmaker also accused central bank executives of indulging in too many golf excursions, saying that between August 2010 and September 2012, they booked time at local golf courses on 461 occasions.

By Lee Ho-jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

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