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Chung illegally admitted to Ewha University: ministry

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Published : 2016-11-18 18:49
Updated : 2016-11-18 19:57

Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of President Park Geun-hye’s embattled confidante Choi Soon-sil, was illegally admitted to a prestigious university in Seoul and was also given special treatment in academic records after enrollment, the Education Ministry confirmed Friday.

In a briefing to release the result of the audit of Ewha University and its faculty members, the ministry said that the school manipulated its admission process to accept Chung and she was given overly generous marks despite not attending classes, taking exams and turning in assignments.

Chung is a 19-year-old horseback rider and the daughter of Choi, the civilian accused of peddling influence and meddling in state affairs through her ties to Park.

Chung Yoo-ra, the horseback rider daughter of Choi Soon-sil, President Park Geun-hye’s longtime friend (Yonhap)
The ministry demanded the university cancel Chung’s admission. Ewha Womans University, which had previously firmly denied the allegations over its special treatment for Chung, issued a public apology and vowed to annul Chung’s acceptance into the school in a statement Friday.

According to the inspection result, the university considered the 2014 Asian Games gold medal she obtained after the application deadline in the admission process. A chief in charge of admissions at the university ordered interviewers to select “a person who brought an Asian Games gold medal.” She was the only student who was allowed to bring in a gold medal during the interview, which is in violation of the school’s policy.

The audit found that the interviewers internationally had given other students lower scores to help Chung be accepted. The school also added horseback riding to a list of categories open to student athletes in 2014, right before the dressage rider’s admission in 2015.

While attending the university, Chung was marked as present in eight classes for three regular semesters without attending classes or handing in necessary documents. She also did not take exams or turn in school assignments, but was still given generous grades.

In one case, students were given tasks to design their own clothes and turn them in, but Chung only submitted a photo in which she wore branded clothes. Her professor was found to have done the assignment and handed it in for her.

The ministry found other cases in which someone else took exams and classes under Chung’s name.

Based on the findings, the Education Ministry plans to file a complaint against professors involved in the dubious process on charges of obstructing business. After further checking suspicions surrounding Choi, Chung and the university’s former president Choi Kyung-hee, it will ask the prosecution to open an investigation.

The university, issued a public apology. It vowed to cancel Chung’s acceptance into the school and punish those involved according to the ministry’s audit and its internal inspection.

The Education Ministry conducted the inspection for 16 days, questioning 118 faculty members and students. But it did not grill Choi, Chung and the ex-Ewha president.

Chung is currently in Germany on leave of absence from Ewha. Choi is being questioned by the prosecution on charges of abuse of power and fraud.

But it said that it could not confirm allegations that Ewha Womans University won eight of nine state-led projects in return for providing special treatment to Chung.

Whether Choi peddled influence over the university in the process of accepting Chung and granting state-led projects to the university is expected to be investigated by the prosecution in the coming weeks.

A separate inspection by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education also found that Chung’s middle and high schools gave her favors in attendance and grading. She was able to graduate from high school though she only attended 17 days out of the 193 days in her senior year at Chungdam High School.

Her mother Choi offered kickbacks to teachers on three occasions. She also verbally abused and publicly humiliated Chung’s teachers, threatening to fire them, according to the investigation. She was then the wife of her ex-husband Jeong Yoon-hoe, who was a presidential aide. 

By Ock Hyun-ju / (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)