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[Newsmaker] Nominee bows out amid snowballing accusations

Kim becomes first nominee in Yoon’s Cabinet to withdraw

Kim In-chul announces his withdrawal from the nomination for deputy prime minister and education minister in front of his office at the Korea Institute of Educational Facility Safety in Yeouido, Seoul, Tuesday. (Yonhap)
Kim In-chul announces his withdrawal from the nomination for deputy prime minister and education minister in front of his office at the Korea Institute of Educational Facility Safety in Yeouido, Seoul, Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Kim In-chul, the nominee for deputy prime minister and education minister, became the first Cabinet pick for the Yoon Suk-yeol administration to step away from the confirmation process.

After a series of allegations surrounding his term as president of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and his family were raised, Kim said he will no longer seek the post.

“I am to withdraw today,” Kim told the press in front of the Korea Institute of Educational Facility Safety in Yeouido, western Seoul, Tuesday. “I wanted to return the benefits I have received from the nation and people by serving, but I did not meet expectations.”

“I will not explain myself in any way,” he said. “Everything is due to my negligence and faults.”

Kim further added, in a statement released by the Education Ministry, that he was worried his family’s future could be at stake and he did not want his “loving pupils” to be brought to the witness stand at the parliamentary confirmation hearing.

The exit came a day after allegations surfaced that Kim had chosen to hold a student‘s dissertation defense at a luxury Korean restaurant. Lee Seong-man, Kim’s student, wrote in his autobiography that he had to make his final oral defense for his doctorate degree to Kim at a “bangseokjip” -- a kind of restaurant that provides escort-like services.

“Though I thought it may not be a proper place for a dissertation defense, I earned approval from Kim after making sure that the examination could proceed as planned,” Lee wrote in the book.

“After it was announced my paper had been approved, the madame and ladies (who worked there) moved to a bar nearby and celebrated with us until 3 a.m.,” he wrote in the book.

Though Kim denied the allegations surrounding him, he did not make any further comments on the matter.

He did not receive questions from the press, saying only, “Please cooperate so that I can keep my last decency.”

Since being nominated, Kim has been repeatedly accused of ethical misconduct.

Kim was accused of having his family unfairly receive Fulbright scholarships from the Korean-American Educational Commission, with which he was closely associated as the head of the Korea Fulbright Alumni Association.

Kim has also been criticized for mistreating students, after some videos recently resurfaced showing Kim yelling at students protesting university policies. The student committee at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies held a protest last week, arguing that Kim should step down from the nominee post.

Also, Kim was accused of embezzlement while he was the head of the university, plagiarism, and earning his master’s degree partly when he was in the army serving his mandatory military service.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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