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Why Monk Jang Changed Position on Shin’s Hiring?

Posted August. 28, 2007 03:14,   


Buddhist priest Jang Yoon (former member of Dongguk University`s board of directors), the first person to expose the suspicion of Shin Jeong-ah’s diploma forgery to the media, requested Han Kap-soo, former director general of the Gwangju Biennale, to allow Shin to continue her position as a director of the Gwangju Biennale at a time he met with Byeon Yang-gyun, Cheong Wa Dae secretary for policy planning, according to sources.

“Monk Jang Yoon, who called me around July 7 or 8, told me that it’s not necessary for someone to have a doctoral degree to assume the Gwangju Biennale’s general art director position, so I hung up the phone saying ‘we must not appoint someone who has lied about their academic background,’” Han said on Monday.

The Gwangju Biennale board of directors, which unofficially decided to appoint Shin as a co-general art director on July 4, withdrew its decision on July 12 after being informed of Shin’s fake doctoral diploma from Jang on July 6.

Jang, who was most active in bringing the suspicion into public discussion and had to step down as Dongguk University’s board member after raising the suspicion in February, abruptly changed his attitude after five months and started protecting her, fuelling rumors she received protection from people in power.

Rumors are quickly spreading among political and art circles that influential figures close to Presidential Roh Moo-hyun have helped Shin from the shadows.

Jang also admitted to a Dong-A Ilbo reporter in mid July that, “Someone pressed the school to hire Shin.” He added that a high ranking government official was involved in the recruitment of Shin.

However, the background of Shin’s appointment as assistant professor in September 2005, despite the opposition from the relevant department and suspicions about Shin`s academic credentials, still remains a mystery.

Given that she only earned a single vote from the 11 nomination committee members, many questions remain to be answered with regard to the decision to appoint Shin as a co-general art director of the Gwangju Biennale.

“We did not even consider her as a candidate at the beginning because Shin was too young,” Han added.

Although he claims that he decided to appoint Shin as the co-director because all the other candidates refused to take the position, he has remained silent about the high ranking official of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the first person to inform that Shin’s doctoral degree is fraudulent.

Moreover, suspicion was also raised by the fact that she served from March to September 2006 as a member of the recommendation committee of Art Bank at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, which is under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The recommendation committee makes recommendations to museums to purchase the works of emerging artists.

“Although there are no set criteria on the qualification of the recommendation committee, senior artists usually serve on the committee. I am surprised that she managed to join the committee,” said an official of the Museum of Contemporary Art.