Kim Myung-soo, President Park Geun-hye’s nominee for education minister, is facing mounting pressure to withdraw from the nomination process as allegations of research misconduct continue to surface.
The latest allegations against Kim, a professor at Korea National University of Education, were raised by one of his former students.
In an open letter to Kim published by a local weekly magazine, the former student, now teaching at an elementary school, claimed that Kim had his graduate students write regular newspaper columns under his name, prepare presentation materials and speeches, and even teach some of his classes.
The former student also claimed that many graduate students had to summarize their own theses for publication in academic journals, identifying Kim as the primary author and themselves as the secondary writers.
She urged Kim to admit to having violated research ethics and apologize to his former students for using their work to inflate his academic achievements.
Opposition lawmakers say that many of the papers Kim has published in the KNUE journal since 2000 were actually summaries of dissertations written by his students. They have also found that Kim received bonus payments from the university for some of these papers.
Lawmakers of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy also allege that significant portions of the four papers Kim submitted in order to become an associate and then full professor were lifted directly from other people’s work.
The nominee has not bothered to respond to the snowballing allegations, saying he will clarify them at the parliamentary confirmation hearing slated for July 9.
Yet NPAD lawmakers are stepping up pressure on Kim to withdraw before the confirmation hearing, saying that holding a hearing on him would simply be a waste of time.
With the controversy over Kim’s qualifications heating up, ruling party floor leader Lee One-koo has suggested that should the allegations prove to be true, he would not be able to win parliamentary endorsement.
Despite the Assembly’s opposition, however, Kim can still become an education minister if President Park refuses to withdraw his nomination.
The nominee now needs to ask himself whether he is qualified for the post he was offered. If the allegations against him prove to be true, he is not even fit to be a professor, much less an education minister.
Furthermore, under the government reorganization, the education minister is to double as the deputy prime minister for social affairs. A discredited deputy prime minister cannot be expected to play the role of coordinating policies among different ministries.