Dongguk Leaders 'Tried to Hush Up Shin Scandal'

      September 28, 2007 10:38

      A monk believed to be the Ven. Youngbae, chairman of the board of Dongguk University, looks through his office window while talking on a cell phone on Thursday.

      Prosecutors say they have evidence that the Ven. Youngbae, the chairman of the board of Dongguk University, and other school officials tried to hush up rumors about the disgraced curator Shin Jeong-ah's fake academic background in June, when she was still an assistant professor there. Youngbae was told by Dongguk University President Oh Young-kyo on June 18 that Shin's academic credentials were bogus and her resignation would be welcome.

      Prosecutors say they found the phrase dated June 18, "Oh Young-kyo recommended that I get a resignation from Shin Jeong-ah" in the Ven. Youngbae's personal organizer, which they seized during a raid of the monk's office.

      Prosecutors also said the former chief presidential secretary for national policy Byeon Yang-kyun, who was in a close relationship with Shin, in September 2005 directly asked then Dongguk president Hong Ki-sam to hire Shin as an assistant professor in return for government subsidies. Hong allegedly persuaded professors who opposed hiring Shin, saying that the school should accept Byeon's request for the sake of promised government subsidies.

      The Seoul Western District Prosecutors' Office therefore launched an intensive investigation of alleged systematic attempts by Youngbae and other school officials to sweep rumors on Shin's fake academic background under the carpet. Oh was not available for comment on Thursday.

      Meanwhile, prosecutors questioned Shin and Sungkok Art Museum director Park Moon-soon as part of their investigation of the curator's alleged embezzlement of donations she collected from companies for the museum. Prosecutors postponed a fresh application for arrest warrants for Shin and Byeon until next week.

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