[EDITORIALS]Recovering from disasterThe entire nation is going through a bitter experience because of the question of the authenticity of patient-specific cloned embryonic stem cell research by Hwang Woo-suk. On Thursday, Roh Sung-il, the head of MizMedi Hospital, claimed that “as of now, there are no stem cells,” driving our society into a psychological panic. At a press conference yesterday, Dr. Hwang said “I have created patient-specific stem cells,” and rebutted Dr. Roh’s assertions by saying “I ask the law enforcement authorities to investigate the possibility that the stem cells may have been replaced by those of MizMedi Hospital.” Dr. Roh immediately fired back against those statements, saying angrily, “Dr. Hwang is passing the buck for fabricating the research report.” He claimed that Dr. Hwang’s laboratory was responsible for the falsification.
It is difficult to judge who is telling the truth. For the past two days, we have felt devastated. We are just watching as senior researchers fight over the truth. It is not important whether the stem cells were contaminated or replaced, Who is responsible is also a secondary matter. The undeniable truth is that there are no stem cells in existence now. The May 2005 article published in the Science also contained decisive flaws. The Korean science community has left an irreversible stain on the world science history.
Dr. Hwang said “I have the technology to produce stem cells, and give me some time to recreate them.” He promised that he would restore his honor by humbly starting again from the beginning. We strongly hope that he will recreate the patient-specific stem cells in the early future as promised. It is our urgent wish because the Korean people have already been extremely disappointed.
We waited to hear the truth, but there is nothing further to hear from Dr. Hwang or other researchers. Korean society is thirsting for the truth. It is time for Seoul National University’s verification panel and the prosecution to step in. They must find out who is truthful and who is distorting and manipulating the truth. We have to show justice in our society and that fallacy and wrongdoing are eventually corrected.
The government is also responsible for this fiasco. Dr. Hwang said he had informed the government that the stem cells were contaminated. President Roh Moo-hyun posted a statement on the Blue House Internet site on Nov. 27, and his letter suggests that the government was aware of a significant part of the problem. The government can no longer say that it will take an official position after receiving Seoul National University’s study. The matter is extremely serious, and all relevant ministries and the prosecution must step in to resolve the nation’s doubts.
Our society should not be daunted by the stem cell debate. Taking sides and quarreling will only lead to despair. To heal the wounds, we must find a solution soon. A palm of a hand is too small to cover the sun; excuses and lies are only temporary measures. Laying bare the truth and showing Korean society’s ability to cleanse itself are the shortcut to restoring the confidence of the international community. Let us remember: Vincit omnia veritas ― truth conquers all things.