The Korea Tourism Organization filed a defamation lawsuit Thursday against the CEO of Incheon International Airport Corporation for damaging its name by making false remarks about the management of its airport duty free shops.
“The Incheon Airport CEO Lee Chae-wook dishonored the KTO by calling us a ‘company suffering deep losses from the duty free shop business and an organization that does nothing but waste taxpayers’ money,’” said KTO CEO Lee Charm at a press conference on Thursday morning.
The KTO confirmed that it filed the lawsuit on Thursday afternoon.
The Incheon International Airport Corporation said that its CEO’s remarks were based on actual figures and as the KTO seeks a legal solution, it will comply in an appropriate manner.
The two state companies have been at odds over the renewal of the KTO’s right to operate duty free shops at the airport. The KTO failed to get its contract, which expires next February, renewed. The airport authority denied KTO a new contract, claiming years of losses from the duty free shop.
Lee of the Incheon International Airport Corporation said at a parliamentary audit session in October that the KTO had made a 5.1 billion won ($4.7 million) loss from the duty free shop business in the last five years, causing the airport losses from the discounted rental fees it offered to the KTO in 2008.
The KTO claimed that the Incheon Airport CEO Lee made a false statement when they were “in a sensitive time, deciding whether they should renew the right to run the shops.”
The KTO has been operating small duty free shops at airports since 1964 that sell souvenirs, accessories, ginseng products and more.
The KTO said it recorded an operating profit of 4.2 billion won from 2008 to 2011.
“We have made 2 trillion won in profits since 1964, which have all been invested into promoting Korean tourism. That has become the base for Korea attracting 10 million tourists today,” said Lee of the KTO. “The lawsuit is to restore the honor of my organization.”
“I would like him to correct his remarks and if he does it, we will withdraw the suit,” he added.
By Lee Woo-young (email@example.com