$2-3M worth of KGIT equipment goes missing

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$2-3M worth of KGIT equipment goes missing

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is embroiled in controversy over the management of a university that is under its supervision.

According to the Korean-German Institute of Technology (KGIT) in Sangam-dong, Mapo District, northwestern Seoul, about 1,000 pieces of school equipment worth 2 to 3 billion won ($1.8 to $2.6 million) are missing.

The KGIT has requested an audit of the school on Aug. 10 by the municipal government and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

The university was established by Handok Corporation, an academic-industrial complex, in 2008, which has taken part in the Sangam Digital Media City (DMC) development project carried by the city government.

The municipal government, however, was suspected of granting favors to Handok when it parceled out land in Sangam-dong owned by the city government.

In order to eliminate all suspicion regarding the project, the corporation and the city government have agreed to establish the university within the DMC complex by investing part of the corporation’s profits (168 billion won) that were generated from the project.

The KGIT is a “graduate school-university” type of school, or a university that doesn’t have an undergraduate program. It only offers master’s degrees, though it categorizes itself as a university. About 140 students are enrolled at the university with 16 professors.

The education ministry said the school voluntarily requested the ministry and the municipal government inspect the institution after about 930 pieces of equipment, which were purchased when the school was established, have disappeared.

The school also told the ministry that problems have arisen. Teachers at the school have been demanding their president step down from the position.

“We decided to audit the school and are currently arranging an appropriate schedule for the process,” a spokesman of the education ministry told the JoongAng Ilbo. “We are going to check whether the university has violated any agreements made between the school and the government.”

As a measure to supervise the university management, the city government is allowed to appoint two officials to the board of directors, which is composed of 11, and one auditor.

The missing school property was discovered in June after Professor Kim Yong-hwan was hired by the school in March to manage the university’s equipment. The school said that Kim found problems when he evaluated the list of requested equipment that was sent to the school board.

Some of the missing equipment was requested by one professor and when Kim asked him to provide specific transaction records for the equipment, he failed to produce the records. Kim said he also wasn’t able to see a detailed inventory of the school’s equipment.

“I had difficulty discovering that there were 931 pieces of equipment missing,” Kim said.

He added that some professors and students were not even aware of the existence of the missing, expensive equipment.

“I have no idea how this happened,” said Park Ho-gun, the president of KGIT, appointed in February.

By Park Bang-ju [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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