Chungcheong education chief held for graft scandal

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Chungcheong education chief held for graft scandal

Kim Jong-seung, chief of the South Chungcheong Education Office, was detained Wednesday night on charges of orchestrating a money-for-questions scheme implicating over two dozen education officials. Kim’s detention followed the Daejeon District Court’s decision to grant an arrest warrant requested by the police.

The court granted the request on the grounds that it was highly possible that Kim was behind the graft scandal given all the evidence presented by the police and that he may attempt to destroy evidence against him.

The 63-year-old provincial superintendant is suspected of orchestrating the graft scheme last year in which Kim ordered three commissioners, Kim’s subordinates, to receive kickbacks from 19 wannabe commissioners in exchange for giving them questions for the commissioner qualification test.

The commissioner qualification test is a civil service test for teachers who want to become bureaucrats overseeing schools.

The South Chungcheong Provincial Police Agency also put five other education officials, including the trio of commissioners, behind bars for their role in the foul play.

The police reported yesterday each of the 19 accomplices paid out between 10 million won ($9,220) and 30 million won in kickbacks, bribing the three commissioners for a total of 290 million won. One of the test organizers, surnamed Park, suspected of leaking the questions to the officials, committed suicide in January during the investigation. The police suspect the bribes were for Kim’s re-election campaign funds scheduled next year.

The former English teacher has denied any wrongdoing during the police questioning, alleging he was not even told about the scheme from the three commissioners.

On using a cell phone registered under a false name that is given by one of the troubled commissioners, Kim insisted he used it to “better communicate” with his workers.

The police reported one of the arrested commissioners, identified by his surname Kim, confessed he reported to the jailed superintendant every bribe collected from test applicants for the question leak.

The investigators also said the disgraced chief began his graft scheme in 2011. “We have obtained testimony [from the three arrested commissioners] that Kim told them to pass some specific commissioner candidates the test in 2011,” said the police.


By Kang Jin-kyu, Shin Jin-ho [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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