Stamp out corruptionAs the scandal of Shin Jeong-ah, the disgraced art curator who forged her academic records, is investigated, the ugly truth is showing its head. It has been revealed that government offices, banks and companies fully supported Shin by buying paintings or photos through her.
Government offices and companies donated a huge amount of money to the art gallery where Shin worked. Dongguk University, where Shin worked as a professor, received a large subsidy from the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development. Thanks to their support, Shin rose as the Cinderella of the art world.
All this was possible because of her inappropriate relationship with Byeon Yang-kyoon, the former presidential chief policy secretary. Byeon served as the vice minister and then the minister of planning and budget.
The ministry handles the government’s budget so the position comes with inherent power over officials at other ministries. He then climbed to an even higher position. Along the way, Byeon did everything he could to support Shin.
The prosecution is looking for a way to indict him for being involved in bribery as a third party. There is a clause that allows the punishment of people who solicit bribes for people or institutes they are connected with. This seems legitimate. Most of the works of art that the government or companies bought through Shin are works by artists close to Shin. There is suspicion that the works were overpriced. The prosecution must investigate whether Shin had any other protectors.
People are enraged about what has been revealed. Times are tough but the Roh Moo-hyun administration has raised taxes, which ordinary citizens have a hard time paying. But a high government official wasted state money because of an inappropriate relationship.
President Roh has called for transparency, but this scandal erupted inside his administration. Byeon’s actions testify that corruption is deeply rooted and widespread among civil workers, and there is no monitoring system. Recently, a senior official at the education ministry was arrested for receiving a large amount of money as a bribe in return for giving a subsidy to a university.
There are more cases of this kind, even though not all of them are exposed. State money must no longer be wasted due to corruption.
Thorough reforms and monitoring systems are desperately needed.