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Gov’t Plans to Audit Hyundai Asan

Posted July. 19, 2008 09:25,   


In the wake of the shooting death of a South Korean civilian at the Mount Geumgang resort, the government reportedly plans to audit Hyundai Asan, a South Korean company responsible for business projects in North Korea.

“Hyundai Asan has never been audited although it receives the Inter-Korea Cooperation Fund,” said a high-ranking government official Friday. “We need to look at whether the fund offered to Hyundai Asan has been properly used.”

The official added, “So far, the government has provided the fund to help the company make ends meet in its North Korea projects. Now is the time to review their business that recently turned surplus.”

A source from the presidential office said that President Lee Myung-bak said in the National Security Council he presided over for the first time since his inauguration that "a comprehensive review is needed for Hyundai Asan to find out whether they are responsible."

The way to audit Hyundai Asan has not been decided yet. Generally, the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) conducts an audit alone or jointly with other related ministries such as the Unification Ministry in this case.

The BAI can audit a civilian organization on its expenses only, even when it is a non-governmental body, if it receives government subsidies or funding.

What type of an audit it may be, in the case of Hyundai Asan, mainly the use of the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund will be inspected. If it turns out that the company misappropriated the fund, related individuals or organizations can be punished under the law on subsidy management or embezzlement.

The government formed an evaluation team for Mount Geumgang and Gaeseong tourism business management Friday and began an investigation into related employees of Hyundai Asan to review the current state of the tourism projects. The team will work to come up with measures for improvement.

The team consists of mid-level officials from the Office of Prime Minister, the Unification Ministry, the Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry, and the National Police Agency and is led by Kim Eun-seok, head of the diplomacy and security policy division at the Office of Prime Minister.

"The launch of the evaluation team is in line with the decision made at the National Security Council presided over by President Lee Myung-bak,” said Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon. “The team plans to visit the site and investigate related Hyundai Asan staff starting Saturday."

mhpark@donga.com kyle@donga.com