South Korean woman arrested in Kunsan bribery investigation
January 30, 2005
PYONGTAEK, South Korea — A South Korean woman who worked as a personnel official at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea remained jailed Friday night after her arrest on charges she took bribes to get South Koreans jobs on the base, the Korean National Police said Friday.
South Korean police arrested the woman at her home around 11 a.m. Wednesday in Kunsan City, climaxing a bribery investigation they began four months earlier on a tip from a South Korean employee working on the base, police said.
The alleged bribery occurred between June 2000 and last July, police said, and involved 16 million Korean won, about $15,622.
KNP officials said their investigation is continuing, and more arrests are likely at Kunsan Air Base.
Police identified the woman, 55, only by her family name, Kim, and said she’d worked for the base for 33 years. Her husband and two sons are currently employed at the base, said Detective Na Jun of the KNP’s Kunsan Branch.
Kim worked as a human resources specialist with Kunsan’s Civilian Personnel Flight, part of the 8th Mission Support Squadron, said Capt. Kristin Haley, chief spokeswoman for Kunsan’s 8th Fighter Wing.
Base authorities placed Kim on “enforced leave” in October after the KNP provided them with “evidence of wrongdoing on her part,” Haley said.
Agents of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) at Kunsan then also began investigating.
“The results of the investigation revealed, in connection with her official duties as a human resources specialist, KGS-7, she accepted gratuities in exchange for procuring, or aiding to procure, employment for applicants and other employees of the Kunsan community,” said Haley.
“In so doing, she violated USFK Regulation 690-1, which governs the employment of Korean national employees. Penalty for the first offense is removal.”
When base officials served her with a “proposed notice to remove her,” Haley said, Kim resigned.
“We will have her in Kunsan police station probably” until next Monday or Tuesday, at which time “we will transfer her documents, and her, to the prosecutor,” Na said.
Na said Kim faces prosecution in connection with three alleged instances of bribery between June 2000 and last July.
In the first alleged instance, Na said, a woman identified by her family name, Hyun, now 61, paid Kim 3 million won, about $2,929, to get her brother into a job as a telephone operator.
Then in November 2002, said Na, a man with the family name Pak allegedly paid Kim 3 million won for a job at the on-base Loring Club.
In the third alleged instance, last July 2, a woman allegedly paid Kim 10 million won, about $9,763, asking that her son be selected for a job with the base fire department. The woman who allegedly paid also had family name Kim, Na said.
“The prosecutor will investigate further,” said Na. Haley said AFOSI’s investigation was also continuing.
“OSI and we are cooperating with each other,” Na said.
As part of their investigation, the KNP monitored the activity in Kim’s bank account for a three-month period, Na said.
Under USFK hiring procedures at Kunsan, said Haley, a vacancy must first occur, and be reported to the Civilian Personnel Flight with a request that it be filled.
The flight then draws up a vacancy announcement and posts hard copies on its bulletin board and outside the base gate “so the Kunsan community can see the posted vacancies,” Haley said. The announcement spells out the eligibility requirements for the job, and the opening and closing dates within which applications must be filed.
After the closing date, officials screen the applications for whether the applicants meet the requirements of USFK Regulation 690-18.
It’s the human resources specialist — the job Kim held — who assigns ratings of either “qualified” or “not qualified,” Haley said.
The specialist also “has a lot of interface with the selecting officials,” she said.
Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this report.