Lift this dark shadowThe controversy regarding allegations of plagiarism by Lee Phil-sang, the Korea University president, has reached a climax. It is embarrassing to see the university’s professors, self-proclaimed intellectuals, slinging mud like toddlers. Are they completely oblivious to the fact that their obstinate squabbling over personal issues is sullying the honor of a school that was once known as a prestigious university? How do they expect to look into the eyes of proud freshman students who start school next month?
Until now, we watched this fight and stayed silent, trusting that the university would find a reasonable solution by itself. However, the current developments are such that it is hard to believe that they have occurred within the sacred walls of an educational institution. Mr. Lee claims that certain business management professors threatened to reveal evidence of his plagiarism unless he resigned before he took up his appointment as president. He says that he was even pressured to fake illness and enter a hospital prior to his official election as university president.
The professors in question deny Mr. Lee’s claims, saying that they were merely advising ― not threatening ― Mr. Lee as a way to keep the name of the school free from taint. They claim that Mr. Lee is making up the threat to divert attention from the real issue ― namely, his alleged plagiarism. Setting aside the question of who is right or wrong, both sides have so far behaved more like corrupt politicians or thugs rather than scholars. Their actions and words are a complete disgrace to their profession.
The only person who can solve this problem is Mr. Lee himself. The professors’ council has handed the decision over to the school foundation, but whichever way the foundation decides, there is now an irrevocable fissure in the university’s community. It would be daunting for Mr. Lee to continue his presidency under these circumstances. Last year, when Kim Byung-joon resigned from his post as deputy prime minister following allegations that he committed plagiarism, Mr. Lee contributed an article to an official bulletin saying that plagiarism cannot be excused under any circumstances. Of course, Mr. Lee has denied plagiarism. However, allegations have poured out and the school and the interschool community of professors have received a heavy blow as a result. It is now time for Mr. Lee to make a decision. Rules should be applied with greater strictness to oneself than to others. Mr. Lee has it in his power to remove the shadow of disgrace from the name of his school. He should do so now.