Thursday, September 17, 2009

Woo hoo! Korea goes litigious!

Shin Jeong-ah (신정아/; Shin Chŏng•a), the former assistant professor of art at Dongguk University (동국대) who fired in disgrace in 2007 after it was revealed she had faked her credentials, is being sued for 216 million won (about US$200,000) by Sungkok Art Museum, for whom she worked.

Her forged résumé, which included a bachelor's degree she did not earn from the University of Kansas and a PhD she did not finish from Yale University, helped her get work at Sungkok and Dongguk. Dongguk is claiming she embezzled 216 million won from them. She is currently serving an 18-month sentence for fraud, I think.

And I say, more power to them. I want the would-be users of fake credentials to fear the imprisonment, deportation, and/or litigation. Put some teeth into those regulations and the fear of God into the would-be fakers.

I have a master's degree and I'll tell you it took no small amount of time, effort, and money to get it. Not to mention that the degree represents a knowledge base and/or a skill set that current and future employers might want to pay for.

Why should people who have gone through all that trouble to rightfully earn a degree have to compete with those who are faking it? Of course they shouldn't, and it's good that the government is cracking down on this kind of thing. Education is serious business in South Korea, and the public and the authorities can be very unforgiving when it comes to a breach of faith like this.

This goes for foreign teachers as well, whether they be English teachers or lecturers/professors of other subjects. Some people complain about all the hoops of showing one's diploma to secure an E2 or E1 visa*, but there are reasons for that. Back in the 1990s, this wasn't required and they did have problems with people with fake degrees (I personally knew of at least two), but they're taking it seriously now.

* Please note this is not a post bashing E2 native-speaking English teachers. I am not saying all, most, or even many NSETs are in South Korea on fake credentials. In fact, I think the percentage may be significantly smaller now than in the past, owing to the stricter regulations. In fact, I see such harsh guidelines as a way of protecting those who are working legitimately, since it protects them from having to compete with academic fakery. Of course, I think an argument could be made that one shouldn't have to show original documents every time they get a new work visa somewhere, and perhaps a service could be arranged for the Korean authorities to verify degrees independently, putting the burden of proof on the ROK government.


  1. I've seen some fake degree holders get busted. They were being marched out of Incheon Immigration one time in a chain gang with some illegal Chinese immigrants.

    Immigration came to one of the Hakwons next to my officetel and arrested two of them recently.

    They hand cuffed them both again and made quite a spectacle about it.

    I have no sympathy for these guys and I hope that their time in the cells will allow them reflect on what idiots (I'd prefer to use a more extreme word) they are.

  2. Cool!

    Did you see a write-up at all in the press? I'd like to be able to link to it for future reference.

    Unfortunately, some of the drug arrests and other problems don't always end up in the media. I say "unfortunately" because then the deterrent value is lost. It would be good for people to know before they get arrested that, yes, this crime, that crime, and the other crime are all taken seriously and you can get into some deep kimchi.

  3. Sorry, I haven't seen anything about it. Then again, I tend not to pay much attention to the Korean media anymore.

    There are a lot of immigration officers working in Bucheon. There's number of officers working the streets out of uniform around the Thai and Filipino blue collar area.

    I think since around 2007 every alien ID card has and RFID chip inside it.

    The immigration officers on the street can tell if any foreigner is legit or not from a range of a few meters with an RFID scanning machine they carry around.

    There are a lot of Illegal Thais and Filipinos in that area, So there are out of uniform officers working there with the RFID scanners.

    In early 2008 an immigration officer was stabbed to death when he tried to arrest an illegal Thai factory worker in that area.

    That story never seamed to surface in the news either.

  4. Wow. Do you have any more details about the Immo officer who was killed? That is a game-changer. I want to contact some of the people I know at Immo and find out about that. Surely that's something you'd expect to appear in the press, but the Korean press as a collective entity is lazy and inconsistent.

    Such an omission certainly belies the idea that the press as a whole is racist and out to get the foreigners.

  5. I have received all of this information from one source.

    She is a Thai lady who is married to a Korean man. She owns a small cafe in the Thai zone which mostly caters to the Thai blue collar workers.

    That information source has dried out now and I can't really get anything else about that area.


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