Commission test kickbacks snare 45The police said Monday they charged a total of 45 people in South Chungcheong schools for being involved in a racket where bribes were paid to help teachers become administrators.
Included was provincial education superintendent Kim Jong-seung, who was indicted in the scandal earlier this year.
The South Chungcheong Police Agency said the disgraced education superintendent orchestrated the racket, which dates back to 2011, by ordering his subordinates in the provincial office to accept bribes in exchange for giving out the questions for the commissioner qualification test, a civil service test for teachers who want to become bureaucrats overseeing schools.
Of the 45 people charged, 17 were teachers trying to bribe their way up the ladder.
According to police, the irregularities began when Kim ordered a subordinate commissioner in 2011 to collect bribes by leaking test questions to build up a campaign fund for an upcoming education chief election.
The subordinate obeyed and seven wannabe commissioners forked over 96 million won ($88,032).
Using the same tactic, a team of commissioners under Kim’s command raked in 290 million won from the 17 teachers taking the test last year.
One of the test organizers, surnamed Park, committed suicide in January during the investigation.
“Besides receiving bribes, Kim decided who to pass over based on his or her profile information,” said detective Cho Dae-hyun.
“If someone looked like they’d be helpful in the next election campaign,” he said, “Kim ordered his officials to pass those test takers.”
The 63-year-old chief was first elected in a 2010 election.
During questioning, the chief insisted that he was not involved in the racket and was not even aware of it. The police rejected those claims.
The South Chungcheong Office of Education has a robust history of scandal. Kim’s two predecessors were forced to resign because of money-for-favors scandals, so Kim will probably be the third South Chungcheong education chief in a row to be forced to step down in the middle of a term.
Kim is now standing trial and will lose his job if he receives 1 million won in fines or more.
By Kang Jin-kyu, Shin Jin-ho [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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