South Korea’s Science Chief Resigns After Public Backlash

Haunted by scandal, Professor Park Ky-young resigns after just four days as chief of South Korea’s Science, Technology and Innovation Office.

AsianScientist (Aug. 16, 2017) – Amid outcry from South Korean politicians and academics, Professor Park Ky-young, a biologist who was selected to head the country’s Science, Technology and Innovation Office at the Ministry of Science and Infocomm Technology (ICT), has resigned.

Park’s appointment by President Moon Jae-in on 7 August 2017 came under intense criticism due to her prior involvement in a scandal in 2004 when she co-authored a fraudulent research paper on human cloning with stem cell researcher Professor Hwang Woo-suk. Hwang had fabricated data to claim that his lab had created the world’s first cloned human embryo.

When the scandal erupted into the public domain in 2005, Park had been a senior advisor to former President Roh Moo-hyun, and she relinquished her post in 2006.

“At the time of the Hwang Woo-suk scandal, Park was the presidential science and technology secretary, a position that required her to take the most responsibility, but she never repented or apologized,” said professors from the Seoul National University in a joint statement that garnered 288 signatures. In the same statement, they also expressed extreme doubt over Park’s ability to lead the Science, Technology and Innovation Office which oversees the country’s research and development budget of 20 trillion won (US$17.5 billion).

Although Park has repeatedly denied allegations of research misconduct, she apologized on 10 August 2017 for not having seen through Hwang’s duplicity, and resigned a day later, on 11 August 2011.

“I sincerely apologize to everyone for causing controversy,” Park told reporters form the Korea Times. “I hope the government will help many scientists realize their dreams through the institution, which has been born under difficult circumstances.”

The short-lived appointment has cast a shadow on the selection criteria and personnel screening system for top official positions in Korea, also stalling President Moon’s ambitions to rejuvenate South Korea’s innovation sector.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Jeremy received his PhD from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where he studied the role of the tumor microenvironment in cancer progression.

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