On May 15, the final decree of Chung Yoo-ra’s illicit admission and the prison sentence of related professors was announced by the Supreme Court. After a long period of nearly two years, Chung’s admission controversy has now finally come to an end.
First receiving public attention in the parliamentary inspection of September 2016 after Ewha students’ continuous requests for audit of former president Choi Kyung-hee, Chung’s illicit admission was one of the main incidents that brought public attention to Park Geun-hye’s influence-peddling scandal.
Accused on Nov. 22, 2016, Choi Kyung-hee and affiliated professors were indicted for interfering with the university admission process to enroll Chung Yoo-ra and also for business obstruction for abusing their authority. Previously given a jail sentence during the first and second trials for disregarding law and abandoning trust, the indicted faculty members appealed both verdicts and brought the case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court confirmed the two-year prison sentence of Choi Kyung-hee and former dean of College of Science & Industry Convergence Kim Kyung-sook. Former dean of the Office of Admissions Namkung Gon was also given a year-and-a-half prison sentence, and Professor Lee Won-jun was sentenced to 10 months in prison and a twoyear probation. The court also made clear that Choi Soon-sil and former president Choi unjustly cooperated as joint principle offenders and gave an additional three-year prison sentence to Choi Soon-sil.
As the sentences are confirmed, Choi Kyung-hee, Kim Kyung-sook, and Namkung Gon will be prohibited from any teaching positions for five years based on Article 57 of the Private School Act. Lee Won-jun had retained his status as a professor until the second trial; however, with his sentence now confirmed by the Supreme Court, he will be dismissed from the school without any further action from the Disciplinary Committee or relief process.
Even though the Supreme Court has handed down penalties to major offenders, only nine out of 18 complicit professors were given penalties within Ewha last year. The remaining nine professors’ Disciplinary Committee has been postponed due to their individual trials and personal matters. With all the related trials finished, the school has not put out any further agenda for the remaining professors. However, with the admission fraud incident slowly coming to an end, the school is trying its best to maintain transparency.