Ministry rushes to reveal results of probe

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Ministry rushes to reveal results of probe

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism released an interim report Sunday on its investigation into corruption in Korean sports, but the ministry’s attempt to eradicate corruption has not convinced the public because officials in the entity are also embroiled in their own scandals.

At the beginning of the year, the ministry identified four major problems in Korean sports: match fixing, physical and sexual abuse, college admissions based on bribery and teams or organizations that are run like private institutions. The ministry’s main goal for the year was to investigate the issues.

According to the report, the ministry found 269 cases in the four categories and has concluded 118 of its investigations. The ministry referred four of the cases to the prosecutors’ office. It also requested that sporting organizations punish individuals in 25 other cases.

When it comes to the event of sports, the ministry found that taekwondo had the most problems, with 27 cases, followed by football, with 25, and baseball, with 24. Equestrian sports were investigated for 10 separate incidents. By type of allegation, the sports ministry investigated 113 cases of privatization of sports teams and organizations, 104 cases of embezzlement, 32 cases of match fixing or unfair calls by referees, 15 cases of abuse and five corrupt college admissions.

The Sports Ministry appears to be satisfied after discovering embezzlement and money laundering amounting to 3.6 billion won ($3.3 million).

The authority emphasized that it looked into some 10,000 bank accounts, checked more than 400,000 transactions and even sent investigators to other countries.

However, the announcement has not convinced the public that Korean sports are becoming more transparent, especially since Second Vice Minister Kim Chong, who spoke at a briefing on the report on Sunday, has kept his job despite multiple controversies this year. Kim is believed to have blocked the appointment of an official to head the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee and in the personal affairs of other ministry officials earlier this month.

The ministry was also criticized after another official, who in May investigated how the national equestrian team selected its members, was demoted in September without clear explanation.

It was suspected that a daughter of Chung Yoon-hoi, a former top aide of President Park Geun-hye during her days as a lawmaker, was included on the team because of her father’s influence.

With the backdrop of the ministry’s own scandals, Sunday’s sudden press briefing seemed forced. The report was previously scheduled to be released in October but was abruptly canceled.

When asked why the briefing was held on Sunday, an official said that the authority wanted to announce its interim results this year and that Sunday was the only option due to other scheduled government events. But the official did not explain why the ministry didn’t reveal the report earlier.

At the briefing, Kim did not mention the controversy involving him and avoided answering questions about equestrian sports, saying “the ministry is still investigating.”

BY KIM WON, KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]




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