Of bogus degrees and lies

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Of bogus degrees and lies

Shin Jeong-ah’s fabricated Yale doctorate, which initiated a series of revelations of bogus celebrity degrees, reminds us how our society is sometimes shallow, like a cheap silver-plated pot with a shiny surface.
The fact that forging one’s degrees was prevalent in universities, as well as in arts and entertainment, makes us reflect on how we sometimes evaluate a person based on their academic record or the so-called prestige of their college, instead of their actual ability.
Still, we cannot help but be cautious of the viewpoint of some who want to blame society’s emphasis on academic background for this incident.
It is true that our society has a long history of putting great merit on people’s academic background when evaluating them.
But that does not mean that those who forged their degrees should be pitied and considered victims. Most good people do not commit a robbery just because they suffer from financial difficulty. Forging a degree can be understood in the same way.
Many people feel discriminated against because of their academic background, so they try to overcome the obstacle by studying foreign languages or earning certificates instead of forging or buying a degree.
Such good people are the true victims of society. Those who forged their degrees were people who had amassed money and acclaim by taking advantage of our society’s shortcomings.
At this very moment, countless young people stay up all night, studying hard to be admitted to a college here or abroad in their pursuit of a degree.
Yes, our society puts too much emphasis on a person’s academic background and has a distorted education system. But that it is not an excuse for some sly people to try to take advantage of the system. We should not ignore the sweat of many honest people.
Such hard, honest efforts are what made the Republic of Korea the world’s 11th-largest economy.
People rolled up their sleeves and worked hard. That was the driving force that supported the country in the midst of competition with world powers.
Blame for the recent scandal belongs not to society but individual liars. Korea’s worship of top degrees and prestigious schools needs to end, but lying about one’s degree is a crime that damages society.
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