A total dud

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A total dud

Two pillars of the process of lawmakers’ screening of nominees to high government office are an ability to carry out the jobs and a sense of ethics or morality. In Wednesday’s confirmation hearing for Kim Myung-soo, nominee for education minister and deputy prime minister for education, culture and society, ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers struggled to prove his qualifications as education chief. Their peers from the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy attacked him for his improper behavior as a professor. Kim failed to pass either test.

First of all, he clearly doesn’t have even a minimum respect for scholarly ethics. He attributed a whole array of violations of ethics - ranging from plagiarism to the receipt of illegitimate research funds - to longstanding practices in academia. On suspicions that he took first author’s credit for a joint study that was mostly done by the second author, he laid the blame on his computer skills. When asked why all the alternatives suggested in the conclusion of one of his theses were exactly the same as another scholar’s, he asserted that quoting publicly certified content does not constitute plagiarism. Kim’s remarks showed a critical lack of understanding of fundamental ethics applied to academic circles. If his arguments are ever deemed correct, there can be no future for our schools.

Suspicion grew about his abilities, too. Most of the hearing was wasted with lawmakers’ rebukes over documents not being made available. Kim submitted information on his trading of stocks of private education companies only a day before the hearing. According to the documents, he has been trading the equities for 11 years - contrary to his earlier assertions. Kim completely lost credibility by telling lies and evading responsibility for his own actions.

The nominee even gave an evasive answer when asked to explain his education philosophy. He said he could not come up with concrete ideas to support President Park Geun-hye’s education policy. He sometimes misunderstood lawmakers’ questions and gave ludicrous answers. Simply put, Kim has failed to retire any suspicions about his past or prove his ability to perform his duties. We can only wonder how such a dud was ever chosen.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 10, Page 30

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