Kakao tattletale rats out rule-breaking executives

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Kakao tattletale rats out rule-breaking executives

A whistleblower believed to be from Kakao alleged that executives of the company violated Covid-19 regulations by holding a drinking party at the company's offices late into the night, sparking rage and disbelief among employees.
A post titled, “Are people allowed to hold a drinking party until late at night in the Ryan conference room,” was posted Wednesday on Blind, an anonymous online community app for office workers in the IT industry, which is believed to have been written by a Kakao employee.
Ryan refers to the company mascot, which is a hairless lion that resembles a bear.
The author of the post claims to have seen about 10 executives and employees having a drinking party for more than two hours from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday in the Ryan conference room on the third floor of the Kakao headquarters.
Gatherings of more than two people past 6 p.m. are banned under the current Level 4 social distancing measures, which were recently extended by the government to last until Aug. 8.
The anonymous author of the post castigated the executives for their late-night drinking session. “We can’t even go to dinners with colleagues in the current situation and have to work late at night. How do they think it’s okay to drink and talk loudly into the night?”
They added, “We get notices from the company to report whether our children have tested positive for Covid-19, but where are the notices about being careful of executives having a drunken party?”
According to a Kakao employee who spoke to the JoongAng Ilbo on the condition of anonymity, a large group of employees gathered in the third floor conference room of the Kakao Enterprise office building located in Pangyo District of Seongnam, Gyeonggi.
The employee also said that Wednesday’s gathering was not the first time employees have held a drinking party in the company’s offices.
The source said that posts on Blind have continuously called out the executives for drinking in the conference room past 8 p.m. on several occasions. “Several people have reported seeing bottles of alcohol and hearing loud conversations from inside the room. No one believes that they were having a meeting related to company business,” the employee said.
“Rage among employees is widespread that the executives carried on while we have been prohibited from going out to dinner with colleagues.”
While the Health Ministry’s current regulations exempt meetings related to necessary company business and management from the ban on gatherings with more than two people past 6 p.m., they do not exempt dinners and gatherings before or after such business meetings.
Further, the Health Ministry strongly recommends that in-person business meetings do not provide food or drink for attendees.
Those found in violation of the current social distancing measures are subject to a fine of up to 100,000 won ($87).
A Seongnam municipal official said they had received reports of the potentially illegal gathering in Kakao’s offices and would investigate.
In response to the allegations, Kakao said that a formal complaint has been filed and is making its way through the company’s ethics committee.

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]
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