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Disturbing nonchalance (KOR)

Aug 22,2019
Justice minister nominee Cho Kuk flatly denied all allegations about special treatment his daughter allegedly received while working as an intern at local medical schools and any apparent link to admissions to prestigious universities. “That’s fake news,” he said. Cho added that even though there was “no procedural problem” with her being credited as the author of a published medical research paper, he would humbly accept public criticism.

Members of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) are siding with Cho, saying there was no special favors or corruption in his daughter’s case. But we are alarmed to see an eruption of suspicions about his daughter. Young people around her age, 28, are outraged at the unfair behavior by someone nominated to be justice minister.

Following an earlier episode in which Cho’s daughter, a high school student at the time, was listed as the first author of an English-language research paper published in the Korean Journal of Pathology in 2008 after attending a two-week internship at the Medical Science Research Institute of Dankook University’s College of Medicine, Kongju National University (KNU) also specified her identity as a college student, not a high school student, in one of its research papers. The Korean Medial Association has taken steps to hold related professors accountable for the mistake through its ethics committee.

Even when universities and academic groups have kicked off investigations into those suspicions, Cho nonchalantly announced his future plans as justice minister. The public is disappointed at his nonchalance. His wife reportedly met with her college friends at KNU to offer her daughter an internship opportunity there to send her to a top university.

Nevertheless, the Ministry of Education is sitting on its hands. In 2016, when suspicions arose over the illegal admission of the daughter of Choi Soon-sil, a confidant of former President Park Geun-hye, to Ewha Womans’ University, Education Minister Yoo Eun-hye, then a DP lawmaker, demanded an end to the “corrupt structure of our society.” She now urges opposition lawmakers to fix a date for a confirmation hearing.

Mockery and laments are spreading fast. Many citizens are wondering what has really changed from the days of the corrupt Park administration. It is not the time for the government to brush off the accusations against Cho as “fake news.” The Ministry of Education must get to the bottom of those suspicions as soon as possible.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 22, Page 30