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2017 Inside Asian Gaming Power 50: Number 31 - Ham Seung-hui

Tuesday, 05 December 2017 13:09
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31 Ham Seung-hui

Kangwon Land



• In charge of Korea’s only locals casino
• Has tried to rid Kangwon Land of criminal activity

For the past 16 years, Korea’s Kangwon Land has been living the dream, controlling the only “locals friendly” casino in a country where the locals want nothing more than to play.

To this day it remains the envy of the nation’s foreigner-only casinos, yet recent times have been far less heady under the watch of President & CEO Ham Seung-huie. Appointed to the top job in 2014, the former prosecutor has stated a zero tolerance approach to the role, embarking on a mission to weed out alleged criminal activities and ensure the property is fulfilling its purpose of boosting the local economy.

It sounds like a noble pursuit but three years on the ghosts of years past continue to plague Kangwon Land. In September, the operator found itself embroiled in a major corruption scandal after admitting that the vast majority of its staff were hired through political and company connections.

 In a statement, Kangwon Land revealed that, from 2012 to 2013, it had hired 518 people of which 493 of them – around 95% – were appointed due to connections with various “influential people.”

“We apologize for committing a crime which would have been possible only in the 1960s or ‘70s,” the company said, pointing the finger firmly at former CEO Choi Heung-jip – who oversaw the company between July 2011 and February 2014 – in the process. “A thing of the past is tarnishing the image of Kangwon Land, which has been trying hard to improve its transparency in recent years. It breaks the hearts of all employees and we are very sorry.”

The company has also seen revenues dip in 2017, down 9.8% in 3Q17 to KRW395.1 billion (US$354.8 million) although analysts have noted Kangwon Land has been operating below its table capacity to “adjust revenues lower amid regulatory scrutiny.” Such actions don’t meld quite so well with Ham Seung-huie’s clean-up mission.

To return to the full list of 2017 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.

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