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(LEAD) Education minister nominee resigns amid allegations of ethical lapses

All News 09:58 May 03, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 3-4, 9)

SEOUL, May 3 (Yonhap) -- Education Minister nominee Kim In-chul resigned Tuesday amid allegations of favoritism related to his family's reception of scholarships from a nonprofit organization jointly supported by the United States and South Korean governments.

Kim has become the incoming Yoon Suk-yeol government's first ministerial candidate to step down.

This file photo shows Education Minister nominee Kim In-chul. (Yonhap)

"Today, I resign from my candidacy as deputy prime minister and education minister. I wanted to return the benefits I had received from the country and society through my last (public) service but I was lacking a lot," Kim said in a meeting with reporters at his office.

"I won't give any explanation. It's all my fault and negligence," he said.

Kim, a former president of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS), was nominated by Yoon on April 13 as education minister and deputy prime minister for social affairs. But a controversy has erupted after it was made known Kim served as president of the Korea Fulbright Alumni Association from 2012 to 2015, and his son and daughter were given Fulbright scholarships at a similar time.

Kim and his wife also received Fulbright scholarships years earlier. Kim has denied allegations of favoritism, saying all beneficiaries of Fulbright scholarships were fairly selected.

The Fulbright scholarship program is run by the Korean-American Educational Commission, a nonprofit institution jointly sponsored by Seoul and Washington to promote bilateral cultural and educational exchanges. The Democratic Party (DP) estimates the total amount of Fulbright scholarships awarded to Kim's family may amount to between 300 million won (US$236,000) and 400 million won.

The DP has also raised allegations Kim had plagiarized a doctoral thesis while teaching at HUFS's graduate school in the early 2000s.

After hearing the news of Kim's resignation, Rep. Park Hong-geun, the DP's floor leader, said Yoon's other ministerial candidates tainted by various allegations should also step down as soon as possible.

ycm@yna.co.kr
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