|Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk speaks during a confirmation hearing at the National Assembly, Sept. 6, 2019. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul|
By Lee Hyo-jin
Controversy is rising after former Justice Minister Cho Kuk's daughter, who has been embroiled in academic fraud scandals including having documents fabricated that were used to gain her admission to medical school, recently obtained a medical license.
Cho Min, 29, a senior at the medical school of Pusan National University (PNU), acquired the license after passing the written test of the state medical license exam conducted on Jan. 7 and 8. She had already passed the practical skills test last September.
With the medical license, Cho will be able start her career as a doctor starting with internships at general hospitals.
The news provoked a backlash from doctors' groups, who viewed that the license was inappropriately issued to an unqualified person who had entered medical college using forged documents and certificates.
Lim Hyun-taek, head of the Korean Pediatric Society, expressed discontent citing a recent court ruling which handed down a jail sentence to Chung Kyung-sim, the ex-minister's wife, for academic fraud.
"The news has fueled anger among some 130,000 doctors and medical students," he wrote on Facebook, Saturday. He called on PNU to invalidate Cho's admission, as it will nullify her acquisition of the license.
Lim mentioned several previous cases where college admissions were invalidated following academic fraud. For instance, Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of Choi Soon-shil, who had been at the center of the political scandal of former President Park Geun-hye, was expelled from Ewha Womans University in 2016 over allegations of special treatment in her admission.
He condemned the head of PNU for turning a blind eye to the issue and Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae for her lack of responsibility.
Seo Min, a professor at Dankook University College of Medicine, echoed the sentiment. "The lifelong doctor's license cannot be revoked. If she chooses a medical specialty directly related to peoples' lives, it will pose a serious risk to many citizens," he wrote on his blog, Sunday.
On the other hand, supporters of Cho have been sharing the news on social media celebrating the achievement amid the attacks against Cho's family.
Chung was convicted Dec. 23 of forging documents including certificates of internships and volunteer work, to help her daughter gain admission to the medical college.
The Seoul Central District Court found her guilty on all seven charges related to academic fraud and sentenced her to four years in jail with a fine of 500 million won ($451,000).
PNU remains prudent on invalidating the admission, saying that it will make a decision after a final ruling at the Supreme Court.