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Investigation Continues into Former Presidential Aide’s Involvement in Shin’s Success

Investigation Continues into Former Presidential Aide’s Involvement in Shin’s Success

Posted September. 12, 2007 07:09,   


The Western Branch of the Seoul District Public Prosecutors’ Office, which is investigating a suspicion that Byeon Yang-gyun, 58, former chief of the Presidential Policy Office, covered up for disgraced former art professor Shin Jeong-ah, announced yesterday that it was investigating whether Byeon pushed the owners of large enterprises into patronizing exhibitions which were organized by Shin while working for Sungkok Art Museum.

From April of 2002 to July of this year when Shin worked as a curator in this museum, the amount of patronage coming from businesses and financial institutes greatly increased. In fact, before 2002, there were few occasions that the museum received the money from private companies.

D Construction Company supported Shin’s exhibitions seven times, and S Bank did three times. In July of last year when Shin organized ‘Memorial Exhibition for John Burningham,’ four large enterprises contributed money, and for ‘The Alain Fleischer Exhibition,’ which was also organized by Shin in November 2006, seven conglomerates patronized the event.

The CEOs of D Construction Companies and S Bank, which supported Shin, were high school friends of Byeon.

A source from the art industry said that, “Shin told us that she had connections from the Ministry of Planning and Budget,’ and he also added that, “D Construction Company, which had maintained a close relationship with other museums, contributed more money to Sungkok Art Museum.”

Meanwhile, a source from the prosecution said that, “If the investigation on the companies which contributed money to Sungkok Art Museum reveals Byeon’s involvement in this case, we can arrest him for abuse of power or the promotion of bribery.”

Besides, the prosecution is investigating whether Byeon, who served as a vice minister of the Ministry of Planning and Budget in 2003, exerted any influence to help Shin receive 12 million won in culture support funds. This funding was granted to Shin in 2003 under the name of supporting international cultural exchange activities.

Meanwhile, Byeon worked a director of planning and management for the Ministry of Planning and Budget in 2002. After being appointed as vice minister in 2003, he was promoted to minister in 2005, and served his duty until 2006.

It was also reported that the prosecution has found evidence of Byeon’s involvement in Shin’s appointment at Dongguk University while checking e-mails sent between Shin and Byeon since September 2002.

On the other hand, the prosecution summoned Monk Jang Yun, former director of the board of Dongguk University who first raised questions on Shin’s academic degree and was asked by Byeon not to stir that up again, and also called Hong Ki-sam, former president of Dongguk University who was in office when Shin was appointed as a faculty member.

To reveal whether Byeon exerted influence during the process of Shin’s appointment as art director of the Gwangju Biennale, the prosecution summoned Lee Jong-sang, chair of the appointment committee, and plans to call Han Kap-su, chief director of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, within this year.

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