Korea’s top telecommunications carrier, KT, has come under criticism for selling two satellites at prices significantly below market to a Hong Kong-based company.
Rep. You Seung-hee of the main opposition Democratic Party claimed Thursday that KT sold the satellites Mugunghwa 2 and 3 (Koreasat 2 and 3) to Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) for 4.04 billion won ($3.8 million) and 530 million won ($500,000), respectively.
“KT developed and launched the Mugunghwa 2 and 3 satellites when it was a state-run company,” she told a parliamentary audit session. “It has drained national wealth by selling them at prices lower than that of an apartment.”
KT spent 15 billion won to develop the Mugunghwa 2 and 30.19 billion won to put Mugunghwa 3 into orbit.
You questioned why KT sold Mugunghwa 3, a telecommunications broadcast satellite, which is newer and has far more capabilities than Mugunghwa 2, at a much lower price than the latter.
Mugunghwa 2 was launched in 1996 and used as an emergency backup after being decommissioned in 2006. Mugunghwa 3 was launched in 2009.
KT said both satellites had little commercial value because they had been decommissioned, saying the lifespan of Mugunghwa 2 was 10 years and Mugunghwa 3 12 years.
But Chung Seon-Jong, the former head of the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, told a radio program Friday that the lifespan of Mugunghwa 2 was 12 years and Mugunghwa 3 15 years.
Mugunghwa 3’s fuel is expected to run out in five years, he added, and Korea’s satellite broadcasting system will go down completely as Mugunghwa 3 was the only available backup satellite.