National Assembly Audit season, a 20-day showpiece of men-in-suits shouting at each other, is often a highlight of the year for political watchers.
Every governmental or quasi-governmental organisation from the Army to Electricity Board has to send its top brass to Yeouido to face those fierce protectors of the public interest, otherwise known as the lawmakers of the National Assembly.
Somewhere between the Army and the Electricity comes the Korea Racing Authority and Executive Director Kim Yong Man was up before the panel last week for the ritual grilling. And a dull affair it was too.
On the agenda were a number of subjects although the main focus was on the financials; operating profit was down to a mere KRW250 Billion (that’s about $240 Million). Meanwhile, in the least surprising news of the year, salaries throughout the organisation, from the Chairman down, are high – the hearing heard that the average KRA staffer now makes an annual salary of around KRW 90 Million – equivalent to the likes of Samsung Electronics.
Inevitably the proximity of Off-Track-Betting plazas to schools was also raised. In the wake of strong local resistance to an ongoing attempt by the KRA to relocate its OTB in Yongsan in Seoul to a site a block away from its existing one, this has been an issue seized upon by anti-gambling groups recently.
Horse racing didn’t come up.