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Arrest warrant in review for school counselor suspected of leaking SAT questions

A local court on Tuesday began reviewing whether to issue an arrest warrant for a high school counselor suspected of leaking test papers for a US college entrance exam.

The Seoul Central District Court is expected to reach a decision Wednesday.

The suspect is a former career counselor for the Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies, a prestigious boarding high school in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province. Police accuse him of selling photos of US Scholastic Aptitude Test papers to a broker for three years beginning in 2017.

The broker was arrested last month for allegedly selling the leaked content to an SAT cram school tutor on 10 occasions from 2014 until the end of last month. The tutor then allegedly provided them to 20 parents for prices between 20 million and 50 million won ($17,800-$44,400).

The tutor and the parents were also booked for alleged obstruction of duties.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s Sophisticated Crime Investigation Division, while probing the broker, tracked down the school counselor and raided the counselor’s home and office earlier this month.

Local reports said investigators secured surveillance camera footage of the school as well as the suspect’s computer and cellphone as evidence.

Hankuk Academy is one of 17 SAT testing sites in South Korea. The counselor was in charge of test security and management as the official SAT coordinator.

Police are looking into the possibility that the leaked test may have been passed on to more brokers and test-takers in different time zones.

It is not the first SAT leak case reported in Korea.

Test scores for all 900 people in Korea who took the January 2007 test were nullified after it was found that a number of private cram schools had leaked questions to students.

The SAT administrator, the College Board, strictly prohibits the sharing of test questions or answers at any time. Failing to comply with the policy is grounds for legal action, it states on its website.

The US administrator said in an email response to The Korea Herald earlier this month that it had continued to bolster its test security efforts and resources, and had produced more test content in recent years to prevent theft and organized cheating.

But it did not say whether legal action or additional measures would follow in the recent case in Korea.

By Ko Jun-tae (