Chinese students hire proxies to attend classes for them

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Chinese students hire proxies to attend classes for them

A university classroom in Seoul [YONHAP]

A university classroom in Seoul [YONHAP]

Some Chinese students at Korean universities are hiring individuals to impersonate them in class to receive credit without showing up, charging some 10,000 to 20,000 won ($8 to $15) per hour — and up to 600,000 won for an entire semester.
 
A Chinese student attending a private university in Seoul, who was recently interviewed by the JoongAng Ilbo on the condition of anonymity, said the shady deals are often closed on online forums popularly used by Chinese students, or WeChat, a Chinese instant messaging service.
 
“I’ve seen many students looking for people to take their courses,” said the source. “I even saw students look for people to write their bachelor’s thesis for 800,000 won and master’s thesis for 1.2 million won.
 
Last Friday on ICNKR, considered the largest Chinese online community in Korea, one user was seen looking for a female to take her course at Korea University.
 
Another user was seen looking for a male to fill in for him one day at Kyung Hee University, specifically noting that the hired person must wear a hat and glasses.
 
About 10,000 won to 20,000 won was offered for filling in for an hour, and 500,000 won to 600,000 won for taking a course for the whole semester.
 
Extra fees were offered for assignments and exams.
 
Chinese students who spoke with the JoongAng Ilbo said the practice seems to have grown more frequent during the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
A Chinese student surnamed Sun, who’s been living in Korea for five years, said that before the pandemic, some Chinese students used to hire people to take their summer or winter break courses while they returned home.
 
But since 2020, Sun said he’s been seeing more Chinese students searching for people to do their coursework during regular semesters.
 
“A lot of courses turned virtual, and with courses that didn’t, students were allowed to wear face masks, which I think pushed the practice to grow more prevalent,” said Sun. “It’s no longer a secret among Chinese students in Korea that many of their peers pay for people to attend classes or complete assignments on their behalf.”
 
The malpractices, however, don’t always go unnoticed.
 
At Chung-Ang University in Seoul, one Chinese student was found to have hired another person to take an entire semester on the student’s behalf last year. The student, who had been in China throughout the fall semester of 2022, was busted by the university last month and is currently undergoing disciplinary procedures.
 
People who fill in for the students are often fellow Chinese students, said Sun, adding that it’s become somewhat like a part-time job for them.
 
Among some 167,000 international students in Korea last year, more than 40 percent were from China.
 
University administrators and processors argue that schools, on their part, must improve the management of international students and strengthen punitive measures for any rule-breakers.
 
“Korea is seeing an increasing number of international students, not only from China but also from countries like Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia,” said Yang Jung-ho, an education professor at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul.
 
“If the current situation is left unaddressed, it could negatively impact the overall reputation of Korean universities.”
 
Yang said universities must thoroughly inform international students about the illegality of proxy attendance and the possible consequences they may face if caught. The government should also introduce firm measures to curb the trend, Yang suggested, such as suspending visas.

BY LEE HOO-YEON [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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