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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

August 31, 2007

Written by C.N.

Fake Diploma Scandal in South Korea

You might recall that last year, a South Korean scientist was disgraced after he admitted that he fabricated some breakthrough stem cell research. As it turns out, that particular incident was only the beginning — as the Associated Press/Salon.com reports, there’s been a recent wave of scandals involving fabricated diplomas and other educational credentials among prominent South Koreans:

The scandal[s are] also prompting a renewed look at South Korea’s obsession with titles rather than merit, and the difficulties faced by a society rapidly modernizing while still steeped in Confucian values of scholarship and hierarchy. . . .

Cheong So-bok, author of a recent book examining contemporary Korean society, blames conflicts between tradition and speedy development. “Rapid modernization in recent decades clashing with traditions and Confucian beliefs has created an ethical void that fails to identify individuals as themselves — only by their labels,” he said.

Chung Jin-Soo, a theater professor at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, said the problem shows South Koreans need to focus more on merit. “We need a set of fair-game rules that prevent academic credentials from being the sole judging criteria,” he said. “The vanity pervasive in Korean society leading to individuals exaggerating their academic credentials — this must stop.”

As I wrote back then regarding Hwang Woo-suk’s fabricated stem cell research, and as was eluded to in the article above, incidents like this highlight the almost-obsessive drive among many South Koreans and many Asian Americans in general for materialistic forms of success, accomplishment, and status.

As I and other Asian Americans have noticed about members of our racial group, in many instances Asian Americans seem to be the most status-conscious group of people on earth. This drive for materialism and status goes too far when it compels people to be dishonest to themselves and to others.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with materialistic success. If people want to devote their lives to being able to buy big-ticket luxury items, that’s their prerogative. It only needs to be accomplished through valid and legitimate means, not through fabricated credentials.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Fake Diploma Scandal in South Korea" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/08/fake-diploma-scandal-in-south-korea/> ().

Short URL: http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/?p=474