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06SEOUL2576 2006-07-31 09:04:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Seoul
Cable title:  

BLUE HOUSE STANDS BY "AUTO-PLAGIARIZING" EDUCATION

Tags:   PGOV KS 
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1. (U) SUMMARY: Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Education
Minister Kim Byong-joon faces widespread criticism for his
alleged plagiarism and admitted publication of same articles
in different journals. President Roh continues to back DPM
Kim, and Blue House officials said the charges are not matter
for dismissal. However, this support is not what it appears
to be; DPM Kim will probably have to resign for a relatively
small offense. END SUMMARY.



2. (U) Opposition parties, civic groups, academics, and
even members of the ruling party have all called for the
resignation of newly appointed Education Minister and DPM Kim
Byong-joon over controversial academic practices while he was
a professor at Kookmin University. DPM Kim has apologized,
given explanations, and called for a National Assembly
hearing, but so far has refused to resign. Blue House
spokesman Chung Tae-ho said there is no change in the Blue
House's support for Minister Kim. Opposition GNP lawmakers
have demanded a dismissal motion in the Assembly and the
Democratic Party (DP) went one step further and demanded Kim
"not bring his moral defects to burden the government and the
people."

THE ALLEGATIONS


--------------------------





3. (U) There are two different allegations. First, Kim is
criticized for "auto-plagiarism:" publishing the same article
in two separate academic journals, one for the Korea Local
Autonomy Society in 1998 and one in Kookmin University's
Social Science Institute Journal in 2000. The articles on
the topic of local autonomy had minute changes and different
titles. Minister Kim apologized for publishing the same
article "by mistake," claiming that a graduate student
changed the title without his knowledge. Critics note that
he published the second article with funds from a
government-funded research project, the "BK (Brain Korea)
21." From 1999 to 2002, he and his colleagues received 207
million won in BK21 projects. He also received 4.5 million
won from the Korea Research Institute to publish the first
paper. Plus, he is accused of plagiarizing from the thesis
of one of his students for his paper. He denies this charge
and has requested that the Korea Association for Public
Administration examine the char
ges.



4. (U) The second allegation is that the head of the
Seongbuk-gu ward office received his PhD under Minister Kim
at Kookmin University while supplying funding from the ward
for Kim's research. The Seongbuk-gu ward office funded Kim's
research with 150 million won, but Kim listed the support
received as 4.7 million won in his profile.



5. (U) Earlier this month, President Roh appointed Kim as
Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister despite wide
opposition from even his own Uri party because of Kim's
record as the architect of the controversial real estate
reform policies. Civic groups, such as the National
Association of Professors for Democratic Society, an
organization of progressive professors, opposition party
members, and Uri party members have all urged Minister Kim to
resign for what they are calling unethical and immoral
practices.

ENOUGH TO WARRANT RESIGNATION?


--------------------------





6. (U) In the U.S., it is assumed that a journal
publishing an academic paper has exclusive rights. If there
were ever a case of publishing the same paper, the second
journal would include a disclaimer stating as much. Although
Lee Nae-young, an international relations professor at Korea
University, told poloff that Korean academic standards might
not be as strict as American standards, this is still "not
acceptable." Another professor, reputed GNP guru and Seoul
National University professor Park Sae-il, noted that
although the allegations are not illegal, they are unusual.
As to whether the allegations are serious enough to warrant
calls for his resignation, Prof. Park told poloff, "it's
Minister Kim's decision" whether to resign or not.

COMMENT


--------------------------





7. (C) Given Roh's weakness in the polls and complete lack
of support in the National Assembly, the opposition smells
blood and are going hard after DPM Kim. Even though this is
a relatively minor offense compared to some of the corruption
offenses that stain other Roh cronies, the GNP and many
ruling party officials are determined to take Kim down. With
Uri officials jumping on the anti-Roh bandwagon and the DP
fresh from their by-election win and ready to take a swing at
Roh, the stage is set for an ugly showdown that seems likely
to lead ultimately to Kim's resignation. If a dismissal
motion were to come to the floor of the National Assembly,
there would be more than the necessary 150 votes needed to
dismiss Kim. END COMMENT.
YUN