The National Assembly’s free resort

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The National Assembly’s free resort

The National Assembly, notorious for hardly getting any meaningful work done, is about to finish building itself a large-scale recreational facility erected at a cost of more than 30 billion won ($26 million).

The so-called National Assembly training center in Goseong County, Gangwon, will span 394,139 square meters (97 acres) of land, with a view overlooking Mount Sorak and alternate views of the Yellow Sea. The space is as wide as 48 football fields and has combined housing of 164 rooms — each with a living room, bedroom and kitchen. The roadwork costs as much as 8.9 billion won. It was originally designed to come with a swimming pool, but that was canceled in fear of stoking controversy.

The National Assembly says the area is entirely for lectures and training 5,000 staff. But another training center in Ganghwa Island, Incheon, was leased out 96 percent of the time for family holidays. Training purposes made up a mere 4 percent.

The area is used mostly during the weekend and holidays. On weekdays, the facility stays idle. Yet the National Assembly built a bigger facility at a cost of 35 billion won.

The area was first proposed by the 17th National Assembly, but construction was stopped by the 18th Assembly citing lack of cause and budget. Construction was resumed in the latter stage of the four-year 18th National Assembly for the purpose of aiding the Gangwon tourism industry.

The economy today is so tough that some girls in poor neighborhoods cannot afford to buy sanitary napkins. Yet lawmakers have been busy getting ready for a resort place they go to for almost free.

Countries in bankruptcy mostly have brought about their pitiful state through reckless spending. The National Assembly, which should set an example, is squandering tax money. How can such a group of lawmakers dare to supervise public institutions with moral hazard? The 20th National Assembly must put the facility up for sale and use the proceeds to help public lives.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 24, Page 34
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