South Korea’s lone casino that accepts local customers has found itself in yet another scandal involving a former top executive.
On Thursday, the Korea Herald reported that unionized employees at the Kangwon Land casino resort had alleged that the property’s former CEO Ham Seung-hee had spent KRW70m (US$63k) of company funds on personal expenses, some of which may have been spent on a woman with whom Ham was having an extramarital dalliance.
The 67-year-old Ham, who ran the country’s largest casino from 2014 to 2017, is said to have used corporate credit cards at luxury hotels, high-end department stores and restaurants to make hundreds of personal purchases, some of which involved swimwear and toothbrushes.
Many of the purchases were made at businesses near a residential property in Seoul that is the home of the woman with whom Ham was allegedly conducting the affair. The woman works at a think-tank founded by Ham.
The allegations were first made public by Rep. Song Ki-hun, a legislator with the ruling Democratic Party. The unionized staff issued a statement saying they wanted “the truth to be revealed on every single corruption allegation” made against their former CEO in order to “prevent such a case from recurring the future.”
The future may yet be saved, but Kangwon Land’s CEOs have already done a pretty solid job of tarnishing the past. Last December, former CEO Choi Heung-jip was arrested after details emerged of a cronyism scandal in which the casino hired hundreds of staff based on their personal connection to South Korean lawmakers. Two of these politicians were hit with their own charges this July.
Kangwon Land is the only one of South Korea’s 18 casinos accessible by locals, which is probably why it’s located in an extremely inaccessible mountainous region some 200km north of Seoul. Yet it routinely outstrips all its competitors in annual revenue, even if its number have taken a dip this year after the government imposed a series of operating restrictions.