Cho Kuk sued by hundreds for psychological damages — and hair loss
In the class-action lawsuit, filed at the Seoul Central District Court, the plaintiffs demand compensation of 1 million won ($900) per person from Cho, claiming that his actions caused them “depression, hair loss, insomnia, rage-related disorders, suicidal tendencies and anger management issues.”
Lawyer Kim So-yeon, a member of the opposition People Power Party (PPP) who represents the plaintiffs, asked people in September to join the lawsuit through a link on her Facebook page where she wrote, “I am pursuing a class-action lawsuit due to requests from many people who have suffered extreme stress and even developed illnesses due to Cho’s numerous lies regarding his private equity fund, his daughter’s academic fraud and his son’s university admission.”
According to Kim, each individual will pay 10,000 won towards the legal fees of the lawsuit.
Although the court has yet to decide whether or not it will hear the case, a past precedent suggests it is unlikely to succeed even with a hearing.
In June 2017, a class-action lawsuit against former President Park Geun-hye was brought forward by a group of individuals who claimed psychological suffering due to President Park’s mismanagement and manipulation of state affairs by relying on her confidante, Choi Soon-sil.
The plaintiffs lost their case in court.
While the class-action lawsuit against Cho is unlikely to succeed, it has the potential to serve a political purpose as a reminder of public anger against Cho, formerly a prominent figure within President Moon Jae-in's administration.
Cho’s social media posts railing against income- and status-related iniquities in Korean society once received thousands of likes and cemented his public image as an outspoken academic pursuing greater social justice and equality.
However, this reputation collapsed following revelations that his children, particularly his daughter, benefitted from fraudulent academic and extracurricular credentials to gain admission to a top university and later medical school.
Cho’s daughter Cho Min was listed as the co-author of an advanced scientific research paper when she was just in high school. The paper was retracted by the Journal of Pathology and Translational Medicine where it was published because Cho was attributed as an author without having made an intellectual contribution to the study.
She also claimed to have worked for a month as an intern at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, but an investigation revealed she only worked two days there.
Cho cited the now-retracted co-authored scientific paper and unverified extracurricular activities in her successful applications to Korea University and, later, Pusan National University's medical school.
Despite failing two semesters in medical school for substandard performance, she also received scholarships normally reserved for students with financial difficulties.
One anonymous plaintiff who joined the class-action lawsuit against Choi said, “I felt so bad as the parent of a child who took the College Scholastic Ability Test twice to get into medical school that I started taking antidepressants after I learned Cho’s daughter got into graduate medical school because of her father’s status.”
She added, “I felt like a stupid mother for teaching my child to work hard and abide by the law.”
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]