High court favors sanction on professor over political activities

By Kim Yon-se
  • Published : Sept 2, 2014 - 20:30
  • Updated : Sept 2, 2014 - 20:30
An appellate court has overturned a Seoul court’s earlier ruling in favor of a professor at a state-run graduate school, who had been reprimanded for his political activities.

The Seoul Administrative Court ruled in July 2013 that the decision of Korea Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management to suspend Yoo Jong-il for one-month, citing his activities and expressions in support of the main opposition party were “too severe.”

The initial verdict had clarified that Yoo simply expressed his views to “personally” support a political party. It said that “no one would translate that he represented the (state-controlled) KDI or that the expression of his ideas would tarnish the image and honor of the institute.”

However, the Seoul High Court said Monday that the graduate school’s sanction on the 56-year-old Yoo was legitimate, reversing the initial ruling.

“Unlike ordinary colleges, the KDI (and its school) are in charge of research about the nation’s policies as a public entity,” said the appellate court. “So, a professor’s opinion could be mistaken as the institute’s overall one.”

The verdict said Yoo should have attained the school’s approval before he made his views public.

“Considering that Yoo failed to abide by the academic rules for external activities (which were notified by the school), it is hard to say that the one-month suspension was harsh,” said the verdict.

The KDI school authorities initially proposed a three-month suspension on Yoo, saying he was involved in 38 political activities without prior endorsement of the school.

Yoo took the case to the Appeal Commission for Teachers to challenge the school authorities’ decision. The commission reduced the penalty to a one-month suspension. Still not satisfied, the professor took the case to the administrative court.

By Kim Yon-se (