Former Ewha head faces query

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Former Ewha head faces query

While the resignation of Ewha Womans University’s president has ended students’ 86-day sit-in, the institute’s former head now faces an investigation regarding allegations that she unfairly granted admission to the daughter of President Park Geun-hye’s longtime friend.

According to prosecutors on Sunday, the civic group Public Welfare Committee sued the university’s former president, Choi Kyung-hee, on Friday under allegations that the university admitted Chung Yoo-ra, who is also the granddaughter of President Park’s late mentor, Choi Tae-min, under unequal and favorable assessment standards.

Chung’s mother is Choi Seo-won - who is better known by her former name, Choi Soon-sil - a longtime friend of President Park and daughter of Choi Tae-min, a late mentor to Park. Chung’s father, Chung Yoon-hoi, was chief of staff to Park when she was a second-term lawmaker.

According to one member of the admission board, Chung’s gold medal at the equestrian competition of the 2014 Asian Games was influential in winning her admission, despite the fact that she received the medal past the valid acknowledgement date for awards by the board of admissions.

Chung, who is in her second year at Ewha and on a leave of absence since last month, is also accused of enjoying special status in her classes, where she received grades and academic credits despite frequent absences.

Hundreds of Ewha graduates residing outside Korea demanded on Sunday that the university conduct a thorough investigation into the corruption allegations.

“Choi’s resignation should not mark the end of the students’ sit-in, but be the beginning of normalizing school operations,” said 491 graduates in their statement. “We demand a thorough investigation into the student athlete, in addition to the university’s sincere apology for sticking 1,600 police officers on students.”

Students were engaged for months in a mass sit-in on campus from July 28, initially in opposition to the university’s decision to build a college of continuing education without first seeking the consent of students and professors. After weeks of calling for the president’s resignation, some 100 professors joined the students last week in their cause by holding a rally on Wednesday. Choi resigned an hour before the rally.

Students called off their 86-day sit-in on Sunday.

“Since the president resigned, we will now be returning to our ordinary lives,” one student said in the press conference on campus on Sunday. “But there are unresolved problems and we will not cease efforts to make them right.”

In addition to an apology for involving police, students also asked for a guarantee that those involved in the sit-in will not face disciplinary actions. According to students, at least 23 students and three professors face police investigations, under allegations of locking university staff in a building and obstructing university operations.

In addition to suing Ewha’s former president, the civic group also sued Chung for allegedly making contemptuous remarks on social media, and her mother Choi for threatening a professor of kinesiology and sports studies at Ewha, who was allegedly fired after her request to the university.

Choi is already mired in a prosecution investigation, under allegations that she used her connection to President Park to strong-arm conglomerates to make massive contributions to launch two nonprofit foundations. Suspicions grew that some of the foundations’ funds were funneled into shell companies established by Choi and her daughter in Germany.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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