The Korea Herald


Saenuri tosses Moon to ethics panel

By Korea Herald

Published : April 19, 2012 - 20:00

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Some members suggest IOC member give up his parliamentary seat

The ruling Saenuri Party will hold an ethics committee meeting next Monday to discuss the alleged plagiarism by its lawmaker-elect Moon Dae-sung, party officials said Thursday.

The committee will likely deliberate on whether to expel Moon, who reportedly backed out of renouncing his party membership at the last minute on Wednesday.

Moon, a former Olympic gold medalist in taekwondo and current athlete member of the International Olympic Committee, has been accused of plagiarizing his doctoral thesis for Kookmin University in 2007. Moon, who won in the Busan Saha B constituency in the April 11 general elections, has consistently denied the allegation.

Saenuri, which initially won a majority 152 seats in the elections, has been facing growing calls within and outside the party to drop the two elected lawmakers embroiled in scandals. Kim Hyung-tae from South Pohang and Ulleung constituency quit the party on Wednesday over allegations he attempted to sexually assault the wife of his late brother. Moon was expected to follow Kim by arranging a press conference at 2 p.m. the same day, but abruptly canceled.

“The ethics committee will sternly and promptly deal with matters regarding lawmaker-elect Moon,” Saenuri spokesperson Hwang Young-chul said in a press briefing Thursday. Former prosecutor Rep. Lee Han-sung will be in charge of looking into Moon’s case, Hwang said.

The Saenuri leadership also voiced dissatisfaction with Moon’s refusal to leave the party. 
Park Geun-hye, chairwoman of the ruling Saenuri Party, enters a conference room at the party’s headquarters in Yeouido, Seoul, to attend an emergency committee meeting Thursday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald) Park Geun-hye, chairwoman of the ruling Saenuri Party, enters a conference room at the party’s headquarters in Yeouido, Seoul, to attend an emergency committee meeting Thursday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

“If there is anyone who becomes an obstacle or fails to live up to the pledges made to the people, it will not be overlooked,” Saenuri’s chairwoman Park Geun-hye said during the party’s emergency committee meeting. The Saenuri Party will lose its majority status in the 300-member assembly if Moon is expelled.

Some members even suggested Moon give up his parliamentary ticket.

“We will not be doing the voters justice by letting (Moon) stay in the assembly as an independent for the next four years instead of wrapping up the fact-finding and making him resign altogether,” Lee Sang-don, a former professor and member of Saenuri’s emergency council, said in a radio interview with MBC.

The Saenuri Party’s predicament with the controversial lawmakers-elect has dampened the surprise electoral victory against the alliance of opposition parties, in addition to evincing the ruling party’s factional discord augmented over the nomination process for the parliamentary race.

Rep. Lee Jae-oh, one of the key figures loyal to President Lee Myung-bak, criticized the leadership for belated measures.

“It is hard to understand. How could (she) earn people’s votes by swiftly kicking out people that (she) didn’t like while only staring at the sky after turning a blind eye on the wrongdoing by (her) people,” Lee said via his Twitter account in an apparent shot at Park.

Allegations against Moon surfaced in March, with several scholastic associations such as the National Association of Professors for Democratic Society contending that over 400 sentences of his thesis were identical or similar to another thesis written by an author surnamed Kim for Myongji University the same year. Both theses are about proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching and its effects on taekwondo athletes, and even share five identical typos, the NAPDS claimed. Some have also accused that Moon’s thesis could have been done by a ghostwriter, considering the magnitude of the alleged similarities.

Kookmin University launched an investigation into the suspicion earlier this month by convening a research ethics committee.

“By regulation, the investigation must be completed within six months. Outside figures will also take part in the verification process,” a Kookmin University official said, wishing to remain anonymous.

Saenuri spokesman Hwang, in the meantime, urged a speedy investigation. “We respectfully request once again that (the university) make a conclusion as fast as possible.”

By Lee Joo-hee (