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Lawmakers Bicker Over Video Gambling

Posted August. 22, 2006 03:01,   


The governing and opposition parties, which held a plenary session of the National Assembly’s Culture and Tourism Committee Monday, fought fiercely over issues, including the process of licensing addictive arcade gambling game machines dubbed “Bada Iyagi” (The Sea Story), suspicions of lobbying the process in designating gift certificate-issuing companies for video games, and alleged retaliatory actions against Yoo Jin-ryong, the former vice minister of culture and tourism.

As soon as the meeting started at 3:00 p.m., lawmakers of the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) claimed that Cheong Wa Dae, which had been wrongfully pressuring Yoo over personnel management, displaced him in retaliation of his refusal to cooperate with unjust personnel affairs. The GNP lawmakers also demanded to hold hearings on the issue at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MOCT) level.

However, lawmakers of ruling Uri Party refuted the claim, saying Yoo’s dismissal was handled in accordance with personnel policies, triggering a brawl and a temporary halt of the session.

“Cheong Wa Dae’s explanation that Yoo was dismissed due to his failure in managing the Korea Newspaper Circulation Service turned out to be a lie,” GNP Rep. Lee Kye-jin said.

He also demanded to open hearings with witnesses like Kim Myung-gon, minister of culture and tourism, Lee Baek-man, senior presidential secretary for public information, and Yang Jung-chul, presidential secretary for policy planning.

However, Uri Party Rep. Jung Chung-rae opposed the claim, saying, “I was surprised and at the same time felt pity when I heard the GNP lawmakers speaking something for the sake of their political gain from Yoo.”

“Their ground for opening hearings is very feeble,” Jung added.

Even after the meeting was resumed at 5:00 p.m., they continued their political debate on issues like the suspicions over Bada Iyagi.

“The government which proclaimed to serve commoners belatedly came up with a measure to ban gift certificates for the gambling machine business only last month. The participatory government and the MOCT are the biggest contributor for the ‘Gambling Government,’” said Park Hyung-joon of the GNP

“The propagation of illegal adult gambling games is the biggest failure of the President Roh Moo-hyun’s administration. (The MOCT) must explain the reason behind changing its criteria on gift certificate handling just a couple of days after Bada Iyagi passed the review of Korea Media Rating Board on December 31, 2004,” said Millennium Democratic Party Rep. Sohn Bong-suk.

In regard to the influence peddling of the presidential secretary office for public information over hiring the new vice-president of Arirang TV and the chairman of the Korea Film Archives (KOFA), Culture Minister Kim Myung-gon said, “We concluded to rid the vice-president position of Arirang TV and requested the presidential secretary office for personnel affairs to be transparent and follow principles over its nominated figure for the chairman of the KOFA on the open recruitment. All the responsibilities over decisions made on personnel affairs are on me”