Hagwon director who leaked SAT ruled guilty

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Hagwon director who leaked SAT ruled guilty

The Seoul Central District Court sentenced on Thursday the director of a private academy to one year in prison with a suspended sentence of another two years for leaking SAT questions to students.

The director, a 51-year-old man surnamed Kim, was charged with illegally using the Scholastic Aptitude Test questions at his hagwon, or private academy. He was also charged with tax evasion.

The SAT, used for U.S. college applications to assess a student’s scholastic preparedness for college, is administered by the New York-based College Board.

In 2011, Kim collected a complete SAT set through brokers and his students used it as study material at his academy, an infringement of copyright law.

Kim was also found not to have recorded tuition received in cash in order to avoid paying taxes on those fees. Between 2010 and 2012, Kim was therefore able to avoid paying 190 million won ($164,838) in general income tax.

“It appears that this criminal act has caused exam invigilators great harm,” said a judge after the ruling. “They damaged the fairness of the SAT and this could have unforeseeable societal costs, leading to a negative view of the credibility of the country itself.”

The court also sentenced a 45-year-old surnamed Yu, who used the leaked SAT questions acquired by Kim in his classes and also evaded taxes, to six months in prison with a suspended sentence of two years.

The court also fined four lecturers at the academy, including a 34-year-old surnamed Choi, between 4 to 5 million won each.

In November 2013, Seoul prosecutors indicted a group of 22 people for illegally collecting and distributing SAT questions without approval from the College Board, violating copyright laws. These individuals are undergoing various stages of trial proceedings.

Earlier in June, the Iowa-based operators of the ACT, another college entrance exam, canceled its tests in Korea and Hong Kong at the last moment after confirming that there was credible evidence that the test materials had been leaked.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongangco.kr]

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