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Education minister nominee embroiled in plagiarism scandal

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Published : 2014-06-17 21:19
Updated : 2014-06-17 21:19

Kim Myung-soo, nominee for education minister, came under fire Tuesday for allegedly plagiarizing his student’s paper, in what has been the latest in a string of disputes stirred up by President Park Geun-hye’s Cabinet choices.

The 66-year-old professor at Korea National University of Education published a paper in 2002 on how promoting young students to make their own decisions in the classroom would affect their school life. But according to a press release by Rep. Park Hong-keun of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, many of its content overlaps with another paper by one of his students surnamed Jeong, written four months prior to that.

The two papers contain many identical charts and graphics, and used the same theory. They even had the same title, started off with the same sentence, and reached an identical conclusion. 
Kim Myung-soo

The only major difference was Jeong’s paper ― a thesis for his master’s degree ― was 79-pages long while Kim’s paper had 24 pages.

Kim published the article in a local academic journal for professors, putting his own name as the lead author. Jeong ― who was studying under Kim at the time ― was introduced as a co-author.

“The Ministry of Education is a state-run institute that overseas regulations and laws related to ethics of scholars. Therefore we must apply more strict standards for its head,” said Park, urging Kim to renounce his nomination. He said plagiarism was a serious issue, pointing out that Kim Byong-joon, who was education minister during the Roh Moo-hyun administration, was forced to quit in 2006 after he was accused of plagiarism.

Kim was appointed last week by Park, and will also hold the post of deputy prime minister for educational, social and cultural affairs if his appointment is finalized.

Whether Kim is the right man for the job is already being hotly disputed within education circles, with many taking issue with his ultraconservative views and comments.

In the midst of nationwide mayhem over a controversial historical textbook, which a majority of students and parents rejected for being politically biased and substandard in quality, Kim said so-called leftists in education are “threatening the identity of the country.”

The Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union had already denounced Park’s decision, while seven major historical societies on Monday released a joint statement calling for the president to cancel the nomination.

Park is expected to seek approval of the National Assembly for her ministerial nominees on Thursday, which would be followed by Kim’s confirmation hearing at the parliament.

The embattled professor was not the only one among Park’s picks to be accused of cheating. Song Kwang-yong, Park’s new senior secretary in charge of education and culture, was also accused of copying his student’s paper.

Song, a former professor at Seoul National University of Education, denied the suspicions.

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)

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