Education Minister nominee denies favoring spouse on studies

Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister nominee Park Soon-ae speaks to the press in front of her office in Yeouido, Seoul on May 27 to prepare for a parliamentary confirmation hearing. (Yonhap)

Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister nominee Park Soon-ae denied the allegation she had inappropriately included her husband in studies.

Park, a former professor at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Public Administration, has been accused of inappropriately including her husband in researches and academic journals. The Education Ministry released a statement Thursday, denying the allegation.

“The studies were more than just joint authorship between the nominee and her husband, but are cooperative works by experts,” the ministry said on behalf of the nominee.

”(Park’s husband) is an economics professor who has expertise and interest in information technology, organization management, quantitative analysis and unfair competition as a scholar, which could be integrated with not just international finance but also economics. He served his role with expertise in the research and publications.”

According to Rep. Seo Dong-yong from the Democratic Party, Park and her husband participated in eight studies together, including research projects and publications.

Of the studies, two were state-funded research projects requested by governmental bodies — the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Public Administration and Security. Park and her husband received some 28 million won ($21,745) for participating in the studies.

“Though family members can conduct research together despite majoring in different fields, one should be more careful to avoid conflict of interest for research ethics,” Seo said. “The nominee should reflect on whether she is competent to head the Education Ministry, which in charge of (supervising) research ethics.”

Park was nominated as the education minister on May 26 following the pullout of the previous nominee, Kim In-chul, due to a series of allegations surrounding his term as a university president and his family.

While Kim’s nomination was plagued by controversy, President Yoon Suk-yeol’s nomination of Park has also been contentious, as she had been accused of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated in 2001.

By Im Eun-byel (


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