May 03, 2013 12:51
TV hosts, staff of major business conglomerates and elite university students are among scores of Koreans accused of cheating on standardized English-language tests.
The revelations come on the heels of an investigation into alleged leaks of SAT questions that have prompted the U.S. College Board to cancel the test scheduled for this Saturday in Korea.
Kwanak police in southern Seoul on Thursday said 50 people have been booked on charges of cheating on their TOEIC and TEPS last month. Among them are students of the prestigious Seoul National, Yonsei and Korea universities. "These individuals appear to have cheated on their language proficiency exams to get high scores," a police spokesman said.
One suspect, a law student identified as Park, and an office worker named Lee, offered tips on how to cheat on the tests, and those who had been given the tips were then hired by major broadcasters on the strength of their scores. Park and Lee have been indicted already.
Police summoned another 10 people for seeking help in cheating. "We will hand over the list of names to the company that administers the TOEIC and TEPS as soon as we wrap up our investigation," the spokesman said.
Police are also considering informing the employers of the suspected cheaters.
Police said Park and Lee offered cheating tips for the last three to four years and sent out e-mails to millions of people, prompting investigators to suspect that many more people are implicated.
Prof. Jung Keun-sik of Seoul National University said they were probably victims of Korea's rampant culture of competition and focus on paper qualifications. "It is very alarming to see a culture that condones short cuts, evasion of the law and even criminal acts to achieve goals," he added.
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