But a rare opportunity for critical lawmakers to become a starGukgam: a nightmare for
government and business leaders
Gukgam (short for Gukjeong Gamsa) is a parliamentary inspection of the government offices. However, it is a nightmare also for the jaebeol business chairmen as well as the heads of the different ministries and offices of the Administration. This is because the quizzing lawmakers normally mince no words in questioning the witnesses when they find fault with the erring senior government officials and business tycoons.
All the same, there is much merit in Gukgam as it offers a valuable opportunity to look into the Administration and business world to see if there have been any irregularities, corruption, misconduct and other forms of maladministration in the process of conducting the affairs of the state and in the management of business organizations.
For the lawmakers, the members of the National Assembly, especially the opposition party assemblymen, Gukgam (lasting for 20 days each year) offers a very important opportunity when they become a star in the eyes of the voters by ferreting out corrupt officials and immoral business tycoons. Therefore ‘Gukgam Season’ means their heyday that comes once a year for them to do their utmost to win the heart of voters in their constituencies by bringing the bad ones to justice.
As was briefly mentioned in the Letter from the Publisher this month, all kinds of irregularities are committed by senior government officials and business leaders.
The ‘ultra-modern’ amphibious tanks developed and made by the defense industries sink even in a shallow stream when trying to cross it; the barrel of ‘very advanced’ artillery guns split asunder when fired; and three of the advanced guns deployed to counter-attack the enemy are out of order when needed when North Korean shelled the Yeonpyeong-do Island of South Korea.
Most recently, a Women’s Army Corps (WAC) Captain Oh committed suicide unable to bear the sexual harassment perpetrated against her immediate superior, Major Noh.
These cases of irregularities, corruption and misconduct frequently remain buried if Korea does not have the ‘nosy’ lawmakers who try to make the most of the Gukgam Season.
Here is one example:
A state oil company loses of $868 million in Canada
Rep. Park Wan-joo of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) disclosed at the National Assembly inspection of the Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) on Oct. 24, 2013 that KNOC lost a total of US$868 million in its business with Harvest Operations Corp. of Canada.
Rep. Park claimed that KNOC purchased NARL, an ailing affiliate company of Harvest Corp. for one trillion won (nearly US$941 million) when NARL was actually worth only one U.S. dollar. k
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