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Head of Incheon Airport mulls legal action as resolution to remove him passes

Head of Incheon Airport Koo Bon-hwan is on his way to Friday's press conference at the airport. (Yonhap)
Head of Incheon Airport Koo Bon-hwan is on his way to Friday's press conference at the airport. (Yonhap)
President of Incheon International Airport Corp. Koo Bon-hwan said he is mulling legal action against what he says has been mistreatment, after authorities passed a resolution to remove him from his position.

During the press conference at the airport on Friday, Koo said he feels “a weight has been lifted off his shoulders” and is “sad” being forced to resign halfway through his three-year term.

The outgoing chief also accused the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of breaking into his company-owned residence as part of an investigation, which he says is a breach of law.

“Whether it’s officials at the transport ministry or IIAC, anyone responsible for breaking into my home, which is an invasion of privacy, should be legally held accountable,” said Koo.

He also said he would seek legal advice to challenge the process of his dismissal, but stopped short of specifying who the legal action would be taken against.

His comments come after a steering committee of public institutions at the Ministry of Economy and Finance passed a resolution to remove him during a private meeting at the central government complex in Seoul on Thursday.

Koo was accused of neglecting his duties after a corporate credit card bill revealed he was at a Korean barbecue restaurant after leaving an audit of state affairs at the National Assembly early to prepare for a typhoon in October last year, as well as dismissing a staff member for formally questioning a human resources decision.

The ministry’s decision to dismiss the head of the state-owned airport’s operator will be finalized once it receives approval from President Moon Jae-in.

In a statement sent out to press earlier Friday, Koo said he was “puzzled” to be pressured to resign suddenly despite his three-year term, which is supposed to end in April 2022.

Koo also mentioned the controversy surrounding the airport operator’s decision to give permanent positions to some 1,900 nonregular workers, but refused to share his personal view on the matter during Friday’s press conference. The media and general public think he is being forced to “take one for the team” for the controversy, Koo said.

Despite being in line with President Moon’s policy, the move in June was met with criticism from job seekers and union members alike, spawning multiple petitions on the website of the presidential office.

The decision to give permanent positions to irregular workers was slammed by job seekers and some union members, who saw the move as unfair to those who had struggled to land similar opportunities through a much tougher process.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)
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