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Wednesday,January 20,2021
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DU Hit By a Hoax
  Dongguk University(DU) was very proud of having Shin Jeong-ah, the first Korean to receive a Ph.D. in western painting from Yale university, as a member of its faculty.
  However, it was revealed that her degree was a fake.  Her impressive resume included a stint as curator at Kumho Art Gallery, where she planed successful exhibitions.  And she was chosen to manage Kwangju Biennale before she was discovered for a hoax.
  Just as the Shin Jeong-ah scandal broke, it was discovered that Lee Ji-young, who lectured English for KBS radio, fabricated her educational background as well.  Then, a Dankuk University professor and a successful architect Lee Chang-ha was detected to fake his academic background.  This seems to be a growing trend, especially in the entertainment world. Such phenomenon shows that Korean society puts too much emphasis on a person's educational background rather than his or her ability itself.
  Shin Jeong-ah taught History of Fine Arts at DU.  She said to her students:  "My parents wouldn't let me go to a college of fine arts, even though I loved it.  But I secretly studied fine art at university.  Later, my mother was aware of the fact and got angry.  Then, I gave up studying arts and went abroad.  Eventually, I got a MBA and graduated from law school.  Then I decided to get an Art History degree."
  One of her former students said, "She often spoke in English and seemed to be self-assured in class.  I respected her because she looked elegant and charming.  When I heard that her educational background was fabricated, I was disappointed.  But then, I was disappointed with DU for appointing her a professor."
  Another DU student said, "I am ashamed of Shin Jeong-ah of DU, too.  Even though I do not know how the appointment process or background check was made, I expected that it was thorough.  And also I hope that DU will make the professor appointment process transparent by opening into the public because students have no influence over deciding to appoint professor,"
  A math major gave his opinion: "Of course, DU disappointed us because of this scandal.  Furthermore DU is not taking full responsibility.  I think that DU, Shin Jeong-ah, and all persons concerned about the event must bare responsibility.  I view things from a different angle.  The scandal is a social issue as well as a DU‘s issue.  Even though to change the culture is so difficult for us, we must end the political influences  in appointing new professors."
  The General Student Council made their position clear on July 26: "The university is responsible for the Shin Jeong-ah incident, which has damaged students' self-respect, and DU's prestige.  The School Authority ought to hold a public investigation to get to the truth of this affair.  In addition, they should establish transparent measures that would prevent a recurrence."  Moreover, they want DU to review the qualifications of all professors, and offer those students who were taught by Shin Jeong-ah the option of replacing her course credits with credits through a lecture on The General Student Council homepage.
  Last month, DU decide to reexamine all the teaching staff to prevent an educational background fabrication like that of Shin Jeng-ah.
  The more a student of ability and a competent teacher gather the better DU is.  What is more, DU will be able to develop.  Isn't it?

Kwak Gyu-ryeong  ryeong@dongguk.edu

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