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Bellhop-turned-‘academic’ raked in cash at university

Nov 08,2004
An American who received the highest score in a screening process for an English-teaching position at a university in Seoul was arrested yesterday for allegedly masquerading as a graduate of a top American university. He is a former hotel bellhop.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police said yesterday that Mr. R, 34, had been paid 68 million won ($60,714) in wages and research funds while teaching at the university since April of last year. According to the police, Mr. R confessed to obtaining a forged graduate diploma from Columbia University and a Ph.D from Central Michigan University through a Thai “diploma broker” last year.
The investigation revealed that Mr. R’s academic background went only as far as high school. While working as a bellhop at a New York hotel in 2000, Mr. R met a Korean woman, married her and came to Seoul. “Even his wife didn’t know her husband’s schooling ended at high school,” a police officer said.
As an assistant professor in the English Literature Department of a university in Seoul, he taught four subjects to 130 students.
The school became suspicious after Mr. R reported publishing an unusual amount of research on an “academic” Web site. After discovering that the Web site was fraudulent, the school reported Mr. R to the police. By then, it had paid him 15 million won for the research. Mr. R had created the Web site himself to take advantage of a school policy that pays bonuses to professors whose work is published.


by Brian Lee


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