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MBC president under fire for alleged real estate law violation

The striking union members of the nation’s second-largest broadcaster claimed that their president violated a real estate law and gave favors to a dancer.

The MBC labor union alleged at a press conference on Tuesday that MBC president Kim Jae-chul and a female dancer surnamed Jeong co-purchased three apartments in Osong, North Chungcheong Province, in 2007 when property prices jumped.

MBC management said the claim was “groundless,“ designed to deal a damaging blow to the incumbent president. 
MBC president Kim Jae-chul
MBC president Kim Jae-chul

According to the union, Kim and Jeong bought the apartments when he was the head of MBC’s Ulsan branch. The union claims that the payment for the properties came from Jeong’s account.

They said Jeong planned to buy all three apartments and register them under her name, but worried she might have to pay a huge amount of tax if she owned several properties.

To avoid heavy taxation, Kim had one of the purchases registered under his name, they said, calling it a violation of the real estate law.

“It also coincides with the time when Jeong was paid large amount of money for performing at events organized by the broadcaster. We suspect that they took out the company’s assets and used it to buy the apartments,” said a union member at the news conference.

The union has been claiming that Kim gave favorable treatment to Jeong, paying her 2 billion won since 2005 to perform in MBC-organized events.

Management presented a certified copy of the real estate register and said that the apartment is under Kim’s name and that he bought it to live in after retirement.

The unionists have been on strike since Jan. 30, demanding the resignation of Kim over what they call political interference in news reporting.

Kim, seen as being close to President Lee Myung-bak, is accused by the labor union of ordering the removal of news reports critical of the Lee administration and of “glorifying the administration’s achievements.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic United Party issued a statement on Wednesday calling for Kim’s immediate resignation.

“He has been suspected of misuse of corporate credit cards worth 700 million won ($595,000) and paying the dancer 2 billion won. Such irregularities disqualify him from his job,” the statement said.

“The state auditors investigating Kim’s irregularities should order him to step down immediately. If not, they will be held responsible for neglecting their duty,” it said.

By Lee Woo-young  (wylee@heraldcorp.com)
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