Court accepts Sookmyung injunction

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Court accepts Sookmyung injunction

Uncertainty regarding the leadership of Sookmyung Women’s University continues as its former chairman, who was dismissed from his post by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology for mishandling university funds, returned to work yesterday.

The Seoul Administrative Court stated yesterday that it accepted the injunction filed by Lee Yong-tae, former chairman of the university’s foundation in question for misappropriating donations to the school, and five other dismissed board members requesting to suspend the implementation of the Education Ministry’s decision to revoke their positions.

Last month, the ministry decided to remove Lee and five other former and current board members of the university from their respective posts.

The six were accused of misappropriating 68.5 billion won ($60 million) worth of outside donations between 1995 and 2009.

But the court stated yesterday that it reached its decision “to avoid possible irreparable damage to the applicants [the board members]” and because there was “no evidence that [the acceptance of the injunction] will cause any concern to the public welfare.”

These six are free to resume their posts for the time being.

On April 6, Lee and the others filed a lawsuit against the Education Ministry claiming its decision was unjustified. Lee stated that he did not do anything that warranted the revocation of his position.

The court said its decision does not challenge the authority of the government, but is temporary until a decision is reached by the Supreme Court on the lawsuit filed by Lee and the board members.

Since the lawsuit will undergo a careful review by the Supreme Court, it is unlikely the Education Ministry’s decision will be overturned, the administrative court indicated.

Lee, who has been the chairman of the foundation since 1998, put the blame on the misappropriation of school donations on the school’s management and further stated the school’s current president, Han Young-sil, and the previous president, Lee Kyung-sook, should also be held responsible.

At an impromptu board meeting last month, Lee and other board members went so far as to dismiss Han from her post as school president, a decision which was subsequently overturned by the Seoul Western District Court.

By Sarah Kim, Yoon Seok-man [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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