Yongsan worker says Army aims to fire him
December 28, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A South Korean housing manager who was investigated on allegations of bribery, conflict of interest and intimidation says the Army is firing him.
Kim Tong-sik, 55, said he received notice last month that he would be fired after a final review of his case. He was formerly a housing office manager who approved soldiers’ off-base leases.
Kim was moved from his position at Yongsan Garrison’s housing division to the Hannam Village housing office in June 2002 after two investigations.
“You are expected to know the rules and to follow them to set an example for the subordinates entrusted to your leadership,” wrote Lt. Col. Steven Roemhildt of the Directorate of Public Works, in a Nov. 12 letter to Kim. “I have lost confidence in you and no longer trust you to faithfully execute the responsibilities of your position.”
Kim, who has worked for the base for about 25 years, said he is charged with violating ethical conduct standards, misrepresenting facts and violating administrative policy and procedures. He maintains his innocence and said he is compiling documents to contest his removal and is still receiving a paycheck from the base.
Area II officials said Wednesday that Kim’s case is under review and would not comment on the issue.
In the letter, Roemhildt wrote that Kim owned a five-story building in Itaewon and rented it to U.S. soldiers without disclosing his ownership to the base. Kim put his mother-in-law’s name on ownership documents related to soldiers’ leases, Roemhildt wrote.
“Your personal and substantial involvement in determining the appropriate fair market values for rental properties had a predictable effect on your personal financial interest,” Roemhildt wrote.
Kim’s job was to determine the fair market value for rental properties, and that would have influenced the determination of the value of his own property, Roemhildt wrote. Kim further flouted housing department policy by not providing certain ownership documents to renters of his own building, Roemhildt wrote.
Kim said he sold the building soon after a May 2002 legal review. He said he had never heard of the term “conflict of interest” before.
In the investigations, the Army accused Kim of accepting thousands of dollars in exchange for referring or approving leases. Although a base attorney found probable cause existed for conflict of interest and extortion charges during a 2002 investigation, no disciplinary action was taken, the reports show.
Kim said after receiving notice that he was losing his job, he filed a memorandum seeking a 90-day sick leave extension because he’s suffering from neurological depression. He said has not received an answer on the request.