Whistle blown on college election

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Whistle blown on college election

A Korea University student revealed on his personal Facebook account on Sunday that last year’s student presidential election had been rigged, causing a stir at the school, which is just two weeks away from electing its next student body leader.

Acknowledging the accusations, all the members of the executive board of the student council resigned. The student president and vice president have yet to voluntarily step down; permission from the student representatives’ committee is required first.

Shin Kang-san, a student in the College of Education, wrote on his Facebook account that misconduct was rampant in the previous student presidential election in December 2013.

Introducing himself as the former campaign manager for Koryeo Gonggamdae, the winning party last year, he relayed snapshots of Kakao Talk conversations participated in by key members to prove his accusations.

Kakao Talk is a popular chat application in Korea. In Korean, Koryeo refers to Korea University and Gonggamdae means “bond of sympathy.”

“The chairman of the central election management committee violated neutrality,” Shin wrote, displaying a Kakao Talk chat between Hwang Soon-yeoung, the chairman and student president at the time, and Park Jong-chan, the current student president.

Both Hwang and Park are affiliated with Koryeo.

In a snapshot taken a few weeks before the elections, Hwang told Park that he “thinks it would be fine to order 12,000 [leaflets promoting Park] without Shin Kang-san’s knowledge.”

In response, Park responded in reference to Shin: “Idiot. A fool that knows nothing but rules.”

All six people in the mobile chat room were Koryeo members. Shin was excluded.

Referring to the chat, Shin said that based on election regulations, the party had illegally ordered 2,000 additional leaflets. “Although eventually less than 10,000 were actually disseminated, it doesn’t change the fact that they ordered 12,000 leaflets in the first place,” he wrote.

Shin went further, pointing out that Shin Yu-jeong, the primary strategic planner on Koryeo’s campaign committee, had urged fellow committee members to “secretly encourage others to vote.”

In another Kakao Talk snapshot, Shin Yu-jeong was seen to have written: “Hey guys, the current voter turnout is way too low…we have a high chance of losing…call others and remind them to vote, and make sure you don’t leave a trace…be aware you guys can’t get busted because you’re affiliated with the campaign committee.”

The current student president, Park Jong-chan, apologized in an online post, in which he said he was “very ashamed” and “genuinely sorry.”

“This year was the final year for Koryeo Gonggamdae. [We had] no plans to run for reelection this year because we were operating with a mindset far from our initial intentions. And now, that has all been revealed,” Park wrote.

KU is considered one of the most prestigious schools in the country.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [selee@joongang.co.kr]
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