|▲ On April 8th, President Han and students representatives are having a conversation at Lotus Hall.|
/Photograph by Lee Min-jeong
Previously, President Han postponed the meeting from March 29th to April 8th. Yet, only a few days before the meeting of the 8th, the school announced that only the student representatives will be allowed to participate in the interview.
On the 8th, students gathered and protested against the school’s decision. An Dre, the chairperson of the GSC said, “The appointment Bogwang Sunim made with students will be absolutely broken off if general students cannot meet him today.” Baek Seung-kyu, the team leader of the Student Support Team said, “The school’s decision is for a more efficient conversation.”
In the end, only student representatives had a conversation with President Han after the students who have assembled in Main Hall agreed. Chairperson An threw a question regarding the reason why non-representatives are not allowed to meet President Han and also asked when the future appointment with the whole range of students will be. Although President Han said that he is looking forward to meet students, President Han showed the ambiguous stance regarding the exact date of the meeting, saying, “The process of the interview must be reasonable and should follow the set procedures.”
Meanwhile, the GSC criticized the schools’ repressive measures on members on campus. On April 6th, Professor Han Man-soo who was accused of committing assault on another professor was found not guilty. Despite such judgment was made, school is still keeping its stance on his dismissal as well as on the accusation on students.
|▲ An Dre, the chairperson of the GSC is stressing their stance on the approval of President Han Tae-sik regarding the meeting on March 29th.|
/Photograph by Woo Sun-ha
The school’s prosecution against students
On March 18th, Dongguk University accused four students of defamation regarding President Han and the Jogye Order. The four students charged by the school are An Dre, the chairperson of the General Student Council (GSC), other two chairperson and a student in Dongguk Promotion Committe for the Future (DPC). They are indicted on a charge of posting disparaging contents of the school.
The contents which the school claim to be disparaging were distributed in front of Sanglokwon and were posted on Facebook on March 17th by the DPC and the GSC. They included images that drew virtual dialogues in a Kakao Talk chat room named “Koreana Hotel Lunch Crew.” Bogwang Sunim is known to have attended such assemblage in Koreana Hotel in reality, which the GSC assumed to be the beginning of intervention of the Jogye Order on the president election. They covered contents that imply an inappropriate transaction between President Han and Jaseung Sunim over the position of the president.
Choi Ho-jin, the section chief of the Office of the Students Services, said, “The school sued students for slander since the articles contained misleading information, which accordingly disgraded the honor of President Han, the board of directors and Dongguk University.”
An Dre, the chairperson of the GSC, said, “I admit that there was some false information about Bogwang Sunim in the materials we distributed. However, I would like to raise a question whether the accusation against students was the best way to communicate with the members of campus.”
The dismissal of Professor Han from school
Previously, on March 15th, Professor Han was dismissed from Dongguk University in a teachers’ disciplinary committee. The school’s grounds for taking disciplinary action are the followings: Spreading negative public opinion in terms of the chairman of the board of directors and the president Direct slander on the university Physical violence against his colleague.
Regarding the first ground for the school’s disciplinary action on Han Man-soo, it nominated him as a subject who instigated the students to protest against the school. However, the DPC maintained that it was their independent decision. Holding a negative stance toward the board of directors and President Han was not due to anyone’s instigation but was from the students’ voluntary will.
Also, the school contended that Professor Han is liable for criticizing the school in a direct way. Nevertheless, the DPC said that every member within the school has a right to directly criticize issues on campus. The chairperson An said, “If the school does not withdraw the unjust disciplinary action on Professor Han, no professor would be able to stand up against any injustice that happens within the school.”
On April 6th, Professor Han was acquitted of the assault that he has performed a violence on his colleague. The Seoul Central District Court judged that he is not guilty for the physical violence case. Previously, the prosecution had indicted Professor Han demanding one million won in fines.
The justice department announced, “Referring to materials submitted from the defense counsel, the situation scarcely verifies the suspicion on the Professor Han’s assault.”
Professor Han commented, “The sentence of innocence was taken as justice prevails,” right after the announcement. Furthermore, he showed his expectation of reinstatement. He had filed an injunction to invalidate the dismissal.
Donggukians demanding sincere communication
Regarding those matters, the school and the GSC held a press conference respectively. On March 28th at 11:00 A.M., Baek Seung-kyu, the team leader of Student Support Team said, “The school made a judgement that this situation cannot be solved through conversation,” then added, “Students need to be responsible for their remarks since they are intellectuals.”
On the same day at 1:00 P.M., the GSC also conducted a press conference in front of the Main Hall. The chairperson An, mentioned, “We stopped spreading the articles as soon as the school made a complaint,” and added, “I do not understand how the school could sue their students.” He shaved his hair to express his stance.
After the press conference of the GSC, President Han tried to move by his vehicle, but students blocked the way of the car in which President Han was. Students demanded President Han to get off the car and have a conversation with them. The physical conflict continued for the next two hours and finally, President Han promised to have a meeting with students on March 29th.
In spite of his promise, he did not appear at the appointed place. The official reason was that his health condition got worse and the school announced that he would have a meeting on April 8th. However, there is a growing controversy on the fact that President Han was present at the proclamation ceremony of a campaign called “To Be like a Buddhist” on the day he missed the appointment with students.
You Eun-sun, Lim Ji-soo email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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