|Science, Technology and Innovation Office chief Park Ky-young leaves the Ministry of Science and ICT in Gwacheon on Friday. (Yonhap)|
Park Ky-young, President Moon Jae-in's newly appointed senior science innovation chief official, stepped down Friday amid escalating controversy over her involvement in a stem cell research scandal 11 years ago.
"I once again apologize for disappointing the people and causing continuous controversies," she said through a written statement released Friday evening.
"I sincerely hope that the Science, Technology and Innovation Office performs its role as the nation's science control tower and that my resignation may act as an opportunity for unity and development in science."
Park's resignation came just a day after a press conference in which she said she would carry on with her new post despite criticism.
A biology professor at Sunchon National University, Park served as a senior adviser to former President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004-2006 up to the revelation that Hwang Woo-suk, a stem cell research pioneer who was caught using fabricated data in some of his research. Park was a co-author in the work.
Park, however, partly refuted the public blame placed on her.
"I think it is unjust that I should be described as an accomplice in the case just because I was in office (as presidential adviser) at the time," she added in her statement.
As for her being a co-author in Hwang's work, Park said on the previous day that she had been "not careful enough" and that she regreted the involvement.
Moon's appointment of Park on Monday as chief of the Science, Technology and Innovation Office under the Ministry of Science and ICT, was followed by a fierce backlash from academia, politicians and civic groups.
Hundreds of professors at Seoul National University issued a statement in protest earlier Friday, urging that Park immediately step down.
By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)