Auditors look at grants to a Hwang ally
Documents provided to the Yonhap news agency, purportedly from the Board of Audit and Inspection, suggested that Park Ky-young had received 250 million won ($253,000) in research grants from Hwang Woo-suk for research in areas where she appeared to have little expertise. Ms. Park is a co-author of Dr. Hwang’s scientific journal article on patient-specific human stem-cell cloning, an article that has been retracted, and served for a time as a science aide at the Blue House. She confirmed having received grants in that amount, and defended their legitimacy. The documents said the board was trying to learn how and why the funds were obtained and used.
In July 2001, Ms. Park was a biologist at Sunchon National University working on cloning flowers. She also headed a science and technology committee at the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, an activist civic group. While many civic and religious groups were strongly opposing research on human embryo cell clones, Ms. Park announced that her group supported such studies.
Five months later, she received a 150 million won research grant from Dr. Hwang to evaluate the development of mad cow disease-resistant cattle and the social impact such cattle would have. In December 2002, Ms. Park was named to Roh Moo-hyun’s presidential transition team and, the following June, to the Blue House science post. The same month, she received a second grant from Dr. Hwang to study “the ethics of bio-organs and methods of industrial development.”
The government’s budget for supporting cloning research in 2003 was 700 million won, but it jumped to 6.5 billion won in 2004 after Dr. Hwang’s work, now largely discredited, began to come to public attention.
by Wohn Dong-hee, Park Bang-ju