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Seoul suspends head of Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture

Kim Jong-whee, president of the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture (Seoul Metropolitan Government)
Kim Jong-whee, president of the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture (Seoul Metropolitan Government)
The Seoul Metropolitan Government has suspended Kim Jong-whee, president of the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture -- a Seoul City-funded nonprofit -- after he was embroiled in allegations of abuse of power.

According to the SMG, Kim was suspended Tuesday, following an investigation of allegations that he had abused his authority and drank during work hours. The SMG began its investigation as reports concerning Kim were filed in December on multiple occasions.

An audit committee will also decide on the level of disciplinary action against Kim if he is found liable.

In May 2020, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea also conducted a probe into Kim. An employee at the foundation filed a report claiming that Kim made an inappropriate personnel appointment. The committee recommended that SMG issue a “warning” to Kim.

Kim was appointed to the post in September 2018 by the late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon. His term ends in September. Previously, Kim, who has experience in running social enterprises, was appointed head of the Seongbuk Cultural Foundation in 2012.

The SFAC had been mired in controversy recently when it gave a grant to artist Moon Joon-yong, President Moon Jae-in’s son, as part of its support program for artists hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Yoo Yeon-sik, the cultural division chief at the Seoul City Government, will fill in for Kim. Yoo is also the acting CEO of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, a post that has been vacant since Kang Eun-kyung stepped down on Feb. 28.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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