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[From Kwanghwamoon] Venture party is bonfire of vanity

Posted October. 27, 2000 14:38,   


Indians in Vancouver Island are stylish. They enjoy life by demonstrating their wealth. They are enjoying a potlatch, a ceremony of offering lots of gifts to guests. The more guests and gifts, the higher the authority of the host. Their party often lasts for several days. They present fur, blankets, baskets as gifts.

Sometimes, the chief of the tribe massively piles gifts and sets fire on them with fish oil. Spectators respect him while watching the sight. The property destroyer demonstrates his boldness and shouts that he is the greatest man in the world. It might look like a crazy party to outsiders.

Such a ceremony of a primitive society is happening in Korea. It happened at the Seoul Venture Valley, a symbol of the digital age, in southern Seoul. Some young venture businessmen used to spend more than 10 million won over a night for a potlatch party at a luxurious room salon.

Those who enjoyed such entertainment used to demonstrate their authority by offer even more luxurious party, which include very expensive whiskies.

Venture businessman K is a retired government official. He has the most expensive car, which was provided by the venture company that recruited him. His office in Kangnam, where office rent is highest in Korea, is spacious, and his room is equipped with very expensive sofa and desk.

At a time, interior shops in Kangnam enjoyed handsome business. It is because they received continued orders from venture companies that asked to decorate their offices in luxurious French style.

Where did the money come from? The venture companies are funded by angel investors, who are seeking massive returns. Also, the government provided funds in order to nurture venture companies.

The so-called Chung Hyun-Joon-gate is a good example. Details of the scandal are yet to be disclosed. However, it shows the example of primitive society. The 32-year-old Chung, who is president of Korea Digital Line, would be a junior manager if he were working at an ordinary company. He controlled tens of billions of won. He ran a high-class cafe and owns several foreign-built luxurious cars.

In fact, the government policy provided a ground for such a potlatch party. The government proclaimed that it would create tens of thousands of venture companies. A series of boosting policies were introduced for the venture businesses with massive funds channeled to those companies, attracting lots of people who are blind with the government money.

Now the potlatch party is over with a smell of bribery to government officials. It is likely that more powerful bombs of bribery than the Chung Hyun-Joon-gate will explode soon.