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Truth will out

July 01,2017
The Education Minister oversees schooling for 10 million students, from kindergarten to university. The chief of education policy has a crucial role in reshaping the education framework to foster young minds in the transitional period of advancing to the fourth industrial revolution.

The young generation must be able to breed creativity and adaptability in elementary and secondary school classrooms and upgrade higher-education institutions for global competitiveness to assure a brighter future for the country. The top education administrator must be morally strong and balanced so as to ensure integrity and confidence in public education policy.

Kim Sang-kon, nominated to the double role of deputy prime minister for social affairs and minister of education, however, raised questions in the confirmation hearing on whether he could live up to such a title and expectations. He did not properly answer to allegations on his record of plagiarism and overly left-leaning ideological and historic views.

His excuses and ambiguities only aggravated suspicions. The ruling party lawmakers blindly advocated for him while the opposition attacked him and called him a fraud.

Kim’s biggest fault is his lacking sense of conscience. He handed in just five publications he wrote during his 27 years at Hanshin University to the legislative confirmation committee.

Opposition lawmakers claimed there had been 49, of which 15 were plagiarized or the outcomes of cutting and pasting from his other materials. Kim said he wrote 30 and later corrected this to 40. He later was accused of falsely writing research details in the papers he submitted for review.

He strongly denied any wrongdoing, claiming that he merely followed custom. Kim, however, was among scholars who demanded former education minister Kim Byung-joon to resign amid plagiarism allegation in 2006. If he is so confident and innocent, he should let his materials be reviewed by outside evaluators. If he cannot prove he is honest about his work, Kim is unfit to become the chief of education policy.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 30, Page 34