Korea Times March 21, 2007
Police yesterday booked 25 instructors at private institutes in Seoul on charges of forging their college diplomas.
The National Police Agency sought an arrest warrant for the director of an institute in Seodaemun-gu, northwestern Seoul, while the rest are being investigated without detention.
The 40-year-old director, identified as Lee, is accused of paying 5 million won ($5,300) to a broker in December 2004, and receiving five copies of diplomas from Seoul National University.
Police said that since 1999 Lee had fraudulently claimed that he was an SNU graduate and taught Korean and comprehensive writing. He also accepted forged diplomas from 20 teachers he hired, earning a total 620 million won.
"We've investigated 4,500 teachers at private institutes in Seoul who claimed to have graduated from Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University, and found out that 25 of them were fakes," a police investigator said.
"Most of them counterfeited the diplomas by using a computer scanner and photo editing software. Some only had high school diplomas."
A 35-year-old teacher, identified as Sohn, had taken science courses at an institute for three months prior to his teaching job at Lee's institute. Another 60-year-old teacher, who only has a high school diploma, was found to have taught biology at four different institutes for over 20 years.
Police said teachers earned up to 4 million won a month.
"Graduates from such high-profile colleges not only attract many students, but also gain much trust from the parents, which might have pressured them to fake their diplomas," the investigator said.
A graduate of the medical college of Korea University claimed he had majored in English, and taught English for five months. Police said he did it to pay off his debts.
"Thirty-three educational government officials have to supervise over 13,000 institutes in Seoul. Consequently, many forged diplomas and certificates don't get reported to educational offices," the investigator said.
By Annie I. Bang