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Former ministry official tangled in Kangwon scandal

South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism office was raided on Saturday after allegations emerged that a former tourism ministry official had used his influence to secure jobs for four of his family members at Kangwon Land.

Kangwon Land is the only casino in South Korea that allows locals to gamble, which has been embroiled in a hiring corruption scandal since 2012.

Earlier investigations into the hiring scandal uncovered that most of the 518 people hired at Kangwon Land between 2012 and 2013 had connections to political figures with influence over the casino’s management.

The case was closed in 2015, leading to the indictment of the then CEO, Choi Heung-jip, and a human resources executive. However, the case was reopened last year after calls from the ruling Democratic Party, saying that a deeper investigation was needed.

On Saturday, investigators from a special unit under the Supreme Prosecutors' Office searched the ministry, as well as the homes and offices of three people, including a former ministry official for evidence of these new allegations.

Investigators confiscated documents with details on the Kangwon Land 2013 expansion plan, as well as official documents exchanged between the ministry and the casino in the lead-up to the 2013 signing of the deal.

Prosecutors believe that the ministry official had a telephone conversation with the casino manager, who then delivered a “request” to hire four of the official’s family members between 2012 and 2013.

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