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Inappropriate Behavior of SNU President

Posted March. 19, 2002 08:12,   


Lee Gi-Joon, the president of Seoul National University, resigned from the executive director outside the company of LG Chemistry after controversies arose. His concurrent offices definitely violate the existing laws that prohibit the government officials from concurring a job for profits. Presidents of national universities must have approvals from the government when they hold concurrent posts but Mr. Lee violated the regulation as well.

As indicated by some professors, the executive director outside the company may be understood as an activity for public good rather than an activity for private interests. However, the Education Ministry made an authoritative interpretation on such cases 2 years ago that such concurrent posts by the university presidents are illegal. Although president Lee argues that he did not know about the authoritative interpretation of the Education Ministry, it is far from the common sense that a university president worked for a company ignoring his job for school.

President Lee has got paid about 20 million won every year for past 4 years under the name of research fund from the related company, which almost equals to an annual salary of common laborers. It is understandable that criticisms arise in relation. The executive director outside the company was introduced to supervise and to increase the transparency of the business activities. If he was paid that much, it might be difficult to see the activity of executive directors as a `public activity` not a `business activity.`

The symbolic meaning of the Seoul National University President must be reconsidered at this moment. It would be taken for granted that the President of Seoul National University, who is considered as a representative intellectual of the Korean society, requires of higher moral standard than ordinary people. It is very regretful that such symbolic figure is involved in criticisms concerning his behavior. He must apologized and take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.