Koreans abroad accused of gaming college admissions

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Koreans abroad accused of gaming college admissions

Sixty-one parents and six education brokers have been accused of falsifying documents to take advantage of a special college admission system for Korean students living abroad, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office announced yesterday.

The prosecution said a total of 77 students were admitted to 35 high-ranking universities in Korea through the scheme under suspicious circumstances. Korean high school students who have lived abroad with their families for 12 years or more are permitted to apply for special admission to some of the best universities in the country, including Korea, Yonsei, Soongsil, Kyungwon, Hongik and Hangyang universities.

One of the detained brokers, surnamed Jeon, owns a private academy in China and has a reputation among Korean parents there for successfully gaming the system, according to prosecutors.

One of his clients was a high school student surnamed Lee from Quingdao, China. Lee lived in China with his parents from the age of five and would be eligible for the special admission program upon graduation. But because the Korean and Chinese academic years begin and end at different times, the boy would have had to enter college in Korea one year behind his peers.

Jeon, though, offered Lee’s parents a solution. For just 5.4 million won, he promised that Lee could skip a year of high school and enter college along with his Korean peers. After receiving the money, Jeon produced fake high school transcripts for the student and sent him to a new high school in Quingdao. He enrolled there as a senior, even though he had yet to complete his junior year.

Prosecutors said that 38 more students took advantage of the college admission system in similar ways using falsified transcripts or high school diplomas produced by brokers like Jeon.

Some parents have also manipulated their certificates of employment so that the length of time abroad indicated on the documents would make their children eligible for the program.

“The problem for the special admission program is that the documents provided from overseas are hard to verify,” said Han Dong-young, a senior prosecutor from the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office, during a press briefing.

Prosecutors said that while they will pursue parents through legal means, they will leave it up to the involved universities to decide how to deal with students who were admitted using false documents.

By Shim Sae-rom, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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