The investigation was extended beyond Songpa District to Gangnam, Gwanak, Seocho and Gangdong Districts, even as far as the Seongnam and Uijeongbu areas. It was soon revealed that Lee, a current Songpa District Council Representative, embezzled several hundreds of millions of won by running five day-care centers.An op-ed on the topic looked further back at causes of the problem:
"It became clear why some district council representatives have objected so fervently to the co-investigation by the police and the district office."
The number of day care centers has risen dramatically since authorities loosened licensing requirements in 1991. The market for buying and selling licenses grew quickly, and caregivers were able to find work after a short period of training without thorough evaluations. They easily obtained certifications even by taking online courses, inundating the industry with unqualified and cheap labor.Two other articles (here and here) from early May drew attention to these problems and called for the government to act, which it did in late May:
As a result, the day care industry turned into a profit-making business instead of an education field, and the quality of administrators at these facilities was called into question.
Without addressing these problems, the government pumped in public funds to subsidize the industry and worsened the problem. Competition became fierce to get more state funds, breeding accounting fraud and other irregularities.
In response to a spate of child abuse and embezzlement practices at day care centers, which has shaken the country this year, the government yesterday announced a set of strengthened measures aimed at preventing such irregularities.One of the aims of these measures was to improve working conditions of teachers at day care centers by raising their salaries. ("Day center teachers’ monthly wage is 1.45 million won ($1,286) on average, only 67.8 percent of the monthly wage for kindergarten teachers, who make 2.13 million won on average.")
I believe the only time I've mentioned day cares on this blog was this case from 2008.
One hopes that these new measures will actually be enforced.