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Roh: “The Establishment Seems to Have Defended Its Vested Rights”

Roh: “The Establishment Seems to Have Defended Its Vested Rights”

Posted July. 15, 2005 03:02,   


President Roh Moo-hyun invited committee chairmen of the Korea Council for University Education (KCUE) and presidents of 16 major universities to Cheong Wa Dae to hold a luncheon meeting yesterday.

The meeting drew the attention of the public in light of the ongoing disagreement between the ruling party and Seoul National University (SNU) over SNU’s plan to introduce an in-depth essay writing test for new applicants starting in 2008. During the meeting, which lasted for two hours and ran through lunch, President Roh and SNU President Chung Un-chan did not clash head-on with each other over the issue.

Prior to this meeting, in response to a participant’s joke, “President Chung, don`t express your opinion on the matter,” Chung did not comment. Asked whether he would voice his position on SNU’s plan for admissions from reporters, Chung also replied categorically, “No.”

However, the remarks President Roh and Chung made during this meeting showed distinct differences between the two.

In his speech, President Roh targeted the so-called “prestigious universities,” including SNU, saying, “I am concerned that successful people, who have already established their vested rights in Korean society on the social frame, seem to have been unconcerned with or been niggardly with or even turned their faces away from people who are striving to get new opportunities.”

In addition, President Roh noted, “It is not so difficult for leading groups in Korea to be in the van of the international community and top the list, but I can not be sure whether Korean society will succeed in improving the last group to a considerable degree,” adding, “In this vein, if Korean society does not reach maturity ethically, I feel concerns that it might not succeed all together.”

Presidents of universities who attended this meeting mainly requested the government’s support to universities.

Chung, who sat next to President Roh on his right, revealed his position over the recent controversy, saying, “I am sorry for the recent controversy surrounding SNU’s plan,” adding, “Please, keep your eyes on SNU. SNU will try to conclude its plan in a desirable direction.” Chung further elaborated, “SNU’s plan for admissions from 2008 includes an essay writing test, school grades and separate criteria such as the regionally balanced selection system,” adding, “SNU’s admission plans are not off the beaten track.”

Presidents of other universities voiced their suggestions, saying: “We hope the government will support lots of funds in the process of restructuring universities”; “The government should try to resolve the difficulties of private universities in local provinces”; “Why doesn’t the government support universities by region to promote balanced development among universities?”, “The government should try to make private universities stay true to their spirit of foundation.” and “It is necessary to reduce taxes so that the public can give more donations to private universities.”

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com