At the risk of sounding like an ATA nutrider....
I've met GK Lee. Seems like a good man and has a sense of humor. As for the employees bowing, yeah it is odd- especially any employees who are not also students. I don't find it that big of a deal. The Koreans want to bow instead of shake hands...big deal.
All of the high ranking, particularly Korean, masters, with the exception of GK Lee, have the peculiar, and at least somewhat disrespectful, requirement for all of the employees to bow, not shake hands, in their presence.
How is it a fault to bring in people who can bring something different to the table? And of course the people we bring in would be more knowledgeable and talented than the average person. Why the hell would we "buy out" less talented people?
It's a somewhat regular practice for the ATA to buy out high ranking instructors from other styles, not only just different styles of taekwondo, mind you, but completely different arts, including Chuck Wolf, formerly of Taiho-Ryu Karate/jujutsu, and Master Rick Abair, vice-chairman of overall instruction of the ATA, formerly Hapkido Hurk Choo Kwan and Ji Do Kwan. It's fairly easy to pick out instructors who come from other arts and systems, as they tend to be much more knowledgable and talented than typical ATA instructors/"Masters".
I agree that Soon Ho is just a paper-tiger figurehead. I believe our "Master's Council", as well as the business people, are the real power behind the organization. My "conspiracy" theory is that when H.U. Lee was dieing, he didn't want the ATA to split up, so he devised a plan to make everyone happy. His wife was giving a position on the business portion of the organization, his senior ranks were put on the "Master's Council" to avoid any arguing or break ups, and his brother was made Grand Master to give the masses some one to rally behind and to be the figure head. I have met both the late H.U. Lee and Soon Ho Lee and I see the difference in how they present and carry themselves.
Soon Ho Lee, current overall Grandmaster for the ATA, has been said to be a paper-tiger figurehead without fairly achieved rank in Taekwondo, supposedly having very little actual taekwondo related skill. The most non-choreographed motion I've ever seen him do at once is pull off a funky hand manuever, hold up a katana(?), perform a decent twist kick, and stretch one leg really high, all in the same promotional video on the ATA's homepage. He's otherwise notably absent from any instructional material, though i have seen him perform patterns in ATA instructional videos and books, albeit with weak technique and tons of technical errors. The most recent instructional video that I viewed had him just standing with his arms crossed in the DVD's title menu, and shouting korean commands. It's fairly obvious that Soon Ho Lee has been a figurehead from the beginning of the ATA, in order to give a very "ethnic", karate-kid, mr. miyagi flavor to ATA Taekwondo, whilst working in the background, the "business" side if You will...
That said, I don't believe Soon Ho really had a big part in the business side. I believe that is M.K. Lee. Soon Ho is PR. Since we are going on rumors, or "dirt", I do believe Soon Ho has TKD related skill. From what little I have seen of him move in real life and from a mini-seminar he did once, I believe he does. I have also heard that of all the Lee "brothers", he is the most technical of the group. I haven't met all of them, so I don't know. As far as the ATA instructions material, I never really cared for it. There are mistakes on every person's part in the material.
I agree with most of you say, though after going to some closed and open tournaments, I personally prefer closed tournaments. Open tournaments expose you to more, you learn more, and you get to compare what you know to other arts, but closed tournaments are just more professional IMO.
And of course everyone knows about the business practices, multi-dan kid black-belts, two year black belt guarantees, contracts, 'tard demos, XMA bullshit, franchising, shitty certification seminars, closed tournaments, pitiful self-defense technique, daycare dojang, overall embarassingly low standards, instructors looking for donations at intersections whilst in uniform, and other serious bullshido related to the ATA, so I'll just mention them as a refresher.