Withdraw Kim’s nominationQuestions have emerged over the ethical standards of Kim Myung-soo, who was nominated on June 13 to serve as education minister and to simultaneously fill the newly established post of deputy prime minister for education, society and culture. The 66-year-old professor, who also heads the Korean Educational Research Association, has been accused of habitual plagiarism during his years teaching at the Korea National University of Education. According to a JoongAng Ilbo investigation, seven out of 10 research papers Kim submitted for publication in a school journal at his university from 2001 exactly matched theses from his students, both in terms of title and content.
Kim’s practices go beyond plagiarism because he blatantly stole his students’ work and used them to advance his academic career. Korean professors often copy their students’ work because research works and publication records can influence placements and promotions in universities. But such an irresponsible practice is a testament to a critical lack of ethics.
The education nominee came up with an explanation for his actions, saying that he authored the papers with the consent of his students. However, publication in a school journal primarily serves university professors - not their students. Most universities require graduate and post-graduate students to publish their work in journals registered with the Korea National Research Foundation. Students receive no benefit when they publish their articles in school journals. Therefore, professors cannot claim their students granted them permission to use their work in a school journal.
The prime minister must win a majority of votes in the National Assembly after going through confirmation hearings to be approved. By law, however, deputy prime ministers and cabinet ministers can be appointed even if they do not pass legislative confirmations. President Park Geun-hye must seriously reconsider her choice of who will spearhead education and social affairs policy given Kim’s critical lack of ethics as the chief of education.
An academic research paper reflects not only the integrity of the work, but also the mind and name of the scholar. Needless to say, a dishonest and unethical pen can be as great a danger to society as any weapon. Plagiarism and Kim’s lack of awareness in the gravity of his behavior definitely make him unqualified for a teaching job, not to mention a high-profile public role overseeing the nation’s educational, social and cultural affairs. Even if he is appointed, he can hardly play a role as education chief. We would seriously advise that the Blue House withdraw its nomination.
JoongAng Ilbo, June 20, Page 30