Nineteen private kindergartens said they will close as of Monday, days after a lawmaker revealed thousands of accounting fraud cases involving private kindergartens.
Six of the kindergartens have submitted papers to the education authorities, seeking to terminate their businesses, and another 12 have informed parents that they will shut down. One said it has stopped accepting enrollment applications.
Rep. Park Yong-jin of the Democratic Party revealed early this month that 5,951 financial irregularities had occurred at 1,878 private kindergartens from 2014 to 2017, sparking public uproar and prompting the government to name the kindergartens found to have committed accounting fraud.
Kindergartens in North Chungcheong, South Chungcheong, North Gyeongsang and Gyeonggi provinces filed for closure, citing management issues or health concerns on the part of the operators.
Twelve kindergartens have not yet filed papers with the education authorities, but have told parents they will close.
“Most have cited management problems or health reasons for the closures, so they’re not directly related to the recent revelations of irregularities,” said an Education Ministry official.
Authorities suspect, however, that there may be more private kindergartens considering closure, as the ministry named the institutions found to have committed accounting fraud and is taking steps to monitor them more closely.
A kindergarten in Gyeonggi Province told parents that it would not admit 3-year-olds for a year due to the construction of a new building.
A group representing private kindergartens, the Korea Kindergarten Association, held a debate Tuesday to discuss responses to the government measures.
The association had said earlier that only about 4 percent of the irregularities discovered constituted intentional fraud, and that the rest were minor administrative errors.
It has also complained that disclosing the list of kindergartens that were inspected has misled the public into thinking all private kindergartens are corrupt.
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com