Travel group accused of duping clients, donors

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Travel group accused of duping clients, donors

The police raided the office of Jungsu Korea, a private organization, over accusations that the group duped 237 Koreans working abroad into buying a seven-day travel package to Korea that was not fully paid for in advance.

The police yesterday also requested a foreign travel ban on Kim Moon-hee, the president of Jungsu Korea. The travel-ban request submitted to the Ministry of Justice came after it raided the office of the group.

According to investigators, the Koreans invited were part of a diaspora who had formerly worked as nurses and miners in Germany during the 1960s and ’70s as part of a labor-recruitment program.

The alleged mistreatment involves the failure by Jungsu Korea to reserve full accommodations and follow through with its promised itinerary. The Gangnam Police Precinct is also looking into whether the organization illegally pocketed the guest workers’ money after confiscating documents detailing tour plans and revenue.

Police also raided the office of Kim Moon-hee, the group’s president, who is accused of mishandling donations from religious groups and corporations.

Authorities are also looking into a complaint filed by the workers against Cho Mariah, who managed the budget of the program, which alleges that she misappropriated donor money when organizing the event.

Jungsu Korea, a Seoul-based association - which has no connection to the better-known Jeongsu Scholarship Foundation - toured cities earlier this year where the guest workers live and held a series of presentations to promote a seven-day trip to Korea.

It advertised the deal as part of “a special invitation program” to commemorate of the 50th anniversary of the Korean government dispatching its workers abroad.

The organization allegedly promised to cover all expenses for the trip, including accommodations, and told the workers that they would only be responsible for airfare.

By the time the guest workers arrived at Intercontinental Hotel Seoul in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, the reservations had expired because Jungsu had failed to put up its deposits.

A group of workers tipped off the Gangnam police last Saturday after learning that their reservations had fallen through.

The police said that Jungsu Korea had only paid 40 million won ($37,720) of 150 million won owed.

The organization reportedly also cancelled several of the events on its itinerary, including a visit to the Blue House, the headquarters of Samsung Electronics and the Seoul National Cemetery.

The group’s president is also suspected of extracting donor support by emphasizing his alleged connection to President Park Geun-hye.

Although a photo featuring Kim and President Park is circulating online, their relationship has yet to be confirmed.

The photograph appears to have been made when the president was serving as the floor leader of the Saenuri Party.

Since the program is scheduled to wrap up this weekend, the police have vowed to speed up the investigation.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]
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