Go to contents

Nationwide Investigation on Labor Union Corruption

Posted March. 17, 2005 23:21,   


10. Nationwide Investigation on Labor Union Corruption

It has been confirmed that the prosecution has extended its investigation to target the labor unions of big conglomerates including the car, fiber, and financial industries, as they look into the allegations regarding the illicit practices of the Busan Maritime Labor Union on a large scale. The Public Prosecutor’s Office stated that each branch and district office has been carrying out an independent investigation, stressing that it had no intention of conducting a coordinated investigation but that those independent investigations have coincided by chance.

Some point out that this is a natural phenomenon as labor unions have become political and corrupted.

The investigation of Port Unions in Korea—

The public security department of the Supreme Public Prosecutor`s Office (Director: Kang Choong-sik) said on March 17 that it sent an official document, urging the observation of the movements of local port labor unions, to prosecutors in the field. Prosecutors have decided to go through the judiciary process if leaders of such labor unions are found guilty.

The special prosecutions department at the Busan district public prosecutor’s office (Director: Kim Jong-ro) said it would issue arrest warrants for both Park Ei-so (60), the chairman of the Busan Maritime Labor Union and “Park” (44), the director of the welfare sector, who were taken into custody without warrants on the same day. These union officials allegedly embezzled 250 million won by overestimating the budget for the construction of the labor union’s liaison office.

Prior to this, the prosecutor’s office had arrested three people including “Bok”(53), the vice chairman of the union and “Lee (45), the general manager of general affairs department in the union.

The prosecutors revealed that chairman Park received 100 million won among the 200 million won which Lee got from a construction company.

The prosecution also requested foreign travel bans on eight senior officials of the union, issuing thirteen bans in all.

The prosecution is planning to carry out a wholesale investigation into the allegation that senior officials of the union embezzled billions of won in the process of constructing of a labor union welfare center, completed in 1997, and received illegitimate money routinely for jobs and promotions.

The eastern branch office of the Busan public prosecutor’s office arrested “Jung,” the supervisor of the second cold storage liaison office of the Busan Maritime Labor Union on the charge of taking 17 million won from job applicants for employment on January 22 and has been looking into the case.

The public security department of the Incheon district public prosecutor’s office (Director: Lee Myung-jae) said on March 17 that it found former and incumbent senior officials of the Incheon Maritime Labor Unions had received a huge amount of money in return for jobs and promotions from job seekers and ordinary labor union members and that it arrested four people including “Jeon,” a former director of the organization department, and booked eight without detention.

“Jeon” was charged with taking 59 million won in return for employment and promotions from five labor union members from 2001.

The Concurrence of Investigations on the Labor Union Scandal—

Prosecutors are looking into various instances of corruption related to labor unions, along with their investigation of maritime labor unions.

The southern Seoul district public prosecutor’s office is investigating the allegation that an unnamed automaker’s labor union used hundreds of millions of won from a subcontractor for the union’s activities.

The Busan public prosecutor’s office arrested “Baek,” the former director of the association of national textile retail labor unions in Busan and Gyeongnam, on March 5, on the charge of breach of trust. “Baek” allegedly received 130 million won from an Internet company for brokering the education of labor union members.

The Jeju district public prosecutor’s office restrained “Jo,” the chairman of the labor union for the national automaker’s association in the Jeju area, on February 26, on the charge of embezzlement. He is believed to have taken 270 million won aid money offered by the Jeju provincial office from 2000 to 2004.

The Pyeongtaek branch office of the Suwon public prosecutor’s office arrested two senior officials of Ssangyong Motor on February 16 and charged them with taking 110million won from a company after promising to help the company to be designated as a partner.

In addition, the western Seoul district public prosecutor’s office restrained “Kim,” the former head of Kookmin Bank’s labor union, on February 15, on the charge of embezzling 220 million won from union fund.

Dong-Bin Seok jin0619@donga.com mobidic@donga.com