Kyungpook’s passed over president to sue

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Kyungpook’s passed over president to sue

A professor who was passed over as president of Kyungpook National University (KNU) despite being the school’s first choice said he will sue President Park Geun-hye within the next two weeks.

Kim Sa-yeol, a 61-year-old professor of life science at the university, was named the school’s first choice to be named president in October 2014 through an indirect election system. But his appointment was delayed for two years.

Kim is claiming the second-choice candidate was appointed to the position after interference by the Blue House.

After consulting with his attorney, Kim said he will sue President Park Geun-hye. “Preparation for the lawsuit will be completed and documents will be submitted to the court before the 18th of this month,” he said Tuesday.

“The top authority over the appointment of national university presidents is not the education minister but the president, thus the lawsuit is being filed against President Park.”

Last October, the Ministry of Education appointed another professor at the university, Kim Sang-dong, president of KNU, a position left vacant since 2014.

On Monday, Kim Sang-dong, a mathematics professor of the school, was inaugurated as the 18th president of KNU in Daegu, provoking a backlash from the school’s professors, students and alumni.

A committee comprised of unions of professors and the student council issued a statement Monday opposing the inauguration, accusing the Blue House and the Ministry of Education of meddling in the appointment process.

Kim Sa-yeol claims that he was bypassed because his appointment was opposed by Woo Byung-woo, a former senior presidential secretary for civil affairs who faces allegations of dereliction of duty, in a meeting of Blue House aides in September.

Kim thinks he was not appointed because of his past activities heading a civic organization and speaking out against the government.

During a National Assembly hearing on Dec. 22, such allegations were discussed, but Woo denied that this was the truth.

Opposition lawmakers accused the Blue House of meddling in the appointment of university presidents, blacklisting individuals it considered leftist or critical.

A former Blue House senior aide to President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday, “If two candidates for university president are submitted by the Education Ministry, a senior presidential secretary meeting is held and a ranking of the candidates is decided upon before it is reported to the president. Because the senior secretaries do not know the situation at a university very well, usually the presidential senior secretary for civil affairs conducts a review and speaks about the candidate’s inclinations and activities, and the decision is based from that.”

He continued, “If the civil affairs secretary strongly declares a candidate is not qualified, this can have an influence [on other secretaries].” The senior presidential secretary for civil affairs at the time was Woo.

But the Education Ministry has denied arbitrary meddling in appointment of university personnel.

“There is no leeway for a specific individual to intervene,” an Education Ministry official said.

BY SARAH KIM, KIM YOUN-HO AND YUN SUK-MAN [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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