Korea’s horse racing industry, considered the sleeping giant of Asia, has not been immune from the turmoil sweeping through the country’s political and business classes, with modernization plans in the balance after the Korean Racing Authority chairman was removed from office. It’s just the latest setback for the sport, which has been beset by political obstacles. Exorbitant taxes, uncompetitive take out rates, a unionized labor force at its training centers and vociferous anti-gambling lobbyists determined to shut down off-track betting centers are all perennial problems for the government-controlled Korean Racing Authority.
With massive crowds, booming betting turnover and burning with ambition, Korean racing just might be Asian racing's sleeping giant. Yet not only does it face the same external pressures as the sport does worldwide, there are many “internal” challenges unique to the still-emerging jurisdiction. Now the Korean Racing Authority (KRA) is hoping a new international race meeting and re-vitalized competition can lead it into a new golden age.