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Lee takes controversies head-on

Lee Jae-myung (left), the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, greets the son of Kim Geun-tae, a late pro-democracy activist, at Kim’s 10-year commemorative ceremony, held at Moran Memorial Park in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Lee Jae-myung (left), the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, greets the son of Kim Geun-tae, a late pro-democracy activist, at Kim’s 10-year commemorative ceremony, held at Moran Memorial Park in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate from the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, appears to be taking a head-on tactic to tackle controversies.

In a radio interview Wednesday, Lee admitted to academic plagiarism and reiterated that Gachon University should revoke his master’s degree.

“I did not provide citations in my thesis, and it is plagiarism. I gave up on my degree,” Lee said in the interview.

“The school should cancel it, but it has not. They gave me a document saying (the thesis) is enough for a professional degree.”

Lee received a master’s degree from Gachon University in 2005, after submitting a thesis on ways to overcome corruption in regional administrations.

The allegation that his thesis was plagiarized was first brought up in 2014, when he was Seongnam mayor. At the time, he held a press conference admitting to the plagiarism, and said he has “already given up his degree to avoid unnecessary controversies.”

The degree, however, has not been revoked. Gachon University previously said the time limitation has passed for the school to review the validity of the thesis paper.

The politician’s move on Wednesday appears to be made in a bid to avoid the further spread of controversies that could dent his reputation should the proper evaluation of plagiarism in his academic paper be released.

The university this month said it will thoroughly review Lee’s thesis and release the results after the presidential election in March.

The school also said it cannot revoke a degree that had already been issued just because the student wishes for it, as there is no regulatory ground.

Separately, the ruling party candidate in the radio interview also made his stance clear against the current administration’s real estate policy, saying it has “failed.”

Lee reiterated that the government should delay imposing heavy taxation on owners of multiple homes when they sell houses, suggesting it is the way to stabilize soaring housing prices.

“I will try to persuade the government. There are only two months left (before the change of the government), and it is not too late (to postpone the tax) afterward as well,” Lee said.

On his opposing stance to the incumbent government, he said, “I want you to see my suggestion as not one that is going against the government, but that it is just different.

“The real estate policy (of the Moon Jae-in administration) clearly failed. When a policy fails, we have to get rid of the cause and make changes.”

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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