10 more indicted for international school fraud

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10 more indicted for international school fraud

Former President Chun Doo Hwan’s daughter-in-law Park Sang-ah and former news announcer Noh Hyun-jung were among 10 indicted by the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday for nationality laundering and forging official documents to enroll children in international schools.

Park, a 1990s TV star, and two other parents plotted with an American admissions official at an international school in Seoul last May to enroll their children using falsified transfer documents.

The official arranged the transfer deal even though the kindergarteners had attended a Korean-run English-language hagwon, or private academy, for less than two months, the prosecution said. He was also indicted on Friday along with another school official.

The other six parents allegedly hired a broker in Hong Kong to obtain foreign passports for their children between 2007 and 2011.

As part of the investigation, prosecutors said they plan to immediately summon Noh, who is married to the grandson of Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung, back to the country.

International schools require that at least one parent of a student be foreign. A limited percentage of the student body is allocated to Korean nationals who have lived abroad for more than three years. Officials at these institutions have been known to accept bribes or donations, such as pianos or basketball courts, from wealthy parents seeking admission for their Korean children, prosecutors said.

Both Noh and Park’s children were reportedly transferred to other schools after the crackdown on falsified school enrollment began last year.

In a similar case in February, the Incheon District Court sentenced 47 parents to serve between six to 10 months in jail with two-year suspended terms and up to 200 hours of community service.

Prominent family members connected to major conglomerates were among the guilty. Many hired brokers who forged passports or citizenship documents of countries in Central or South America.

The wife of a nephew of former Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik procured a fake Guatemalan passport for her child. The crackdown has raised public outcry against the elite for resorting to lowbrow means to obtain fake nationalities and forging documents to seek admittance to elite schools.

By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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