Internet provider uncertainty still affects S. Korea
The “seamless” transition that AAFES officials forecast from one Internet firm to another in South Korea is turning out to be anything but.
There is confusion over which company will replace Concordia Co. Ltd. as a subcontractor to LG Dacom. LG Dacom holds an Army and Air Force Exchange Service contract to provide home Internet, phone and cell phone service to U.S. military communities in South Korea.
Last week, Larry Marshall, an official at AAFES headquarters in Dallas, told Stars and Stripes NEO Communication Co. Ltd. would replace Concordia to provide customer service for LG Dacom. “Internet, telephone and cell phone services provided by LG Dacom all remain the same, and the transition to NEO Communication for customer service is expected to be seamless when completed early this month,” Marshall said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes Dec. 4. He said NEO had begun providing service on Nov. 21.
Sources familiar with the AAFES Internet and phone contract have since told Stars and Stripes that Concordia has been replaced by a company named CIC Korea and that NEO never began providing services.
Pacific-based AAFES officials confirmed Monday that NEO would not be the replacement company. “We are hearing that CIC is, or will be, the contractor, and that NEO will not be the contractor,” AAFES Pacific region spokesman Master Sgt. Donovan Potter said. He said AAFES officials in the Pacific could not provide further details about CIC Korea or the changeover and that he had to query his Dallas headquarters overnight to seek clarification.
LG Dacom got the contract in January 2007 and brought in Concordia Co. Ltd. to handle customer service, collection and billing.
But AAFES recently moved to drop Concordia because of “an apparent business relationship” with Jeong Gi-hwan, an executive convicted in South Korean court this year of bribing AAFES officials. Jeong is chief executive of Internet firm SSRT, also known as Samsung Rental Corp. Ltd. AAFES has said Jeong is also listed in South Korean corporate registration documents as a director of Concordia.
LG Dacom official Dustin Ji refused to comment on the situation and said Monday that AAFES has forbidden the company from speaking to Stars and Stripes.
Asked Tuesday whether AAFES has imposed such a ban on LG Dacom, Potter said, “I have not told him to only go through AAFES, and I have no knowledge of that being told to him.”
Jeong, now in custody in Dallas, faces action by federal prosecutors on bribery conspiracy charges stemming from the SSRT case. Jeong’s lawyer is disputing the charges in Dallas federal court.