The fact that a grandson of former president Kim Young-sam passed the entrance exam utilizing one of the society contributor selections, ‘Enhancing national prestige selection’ in 2009 was revealed during the parliamentary inspection of the administrations from September 19th to October 8th. This news reverberated through the parliament and the public. The Democratic Party that asked for an explanation from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology claimed it was an unacceptable situation considering citizens’ sentiments. On the other hand, the university of controversy, Yonsei University, and the government announced the admission of Kim Young-sam’s grandson was a result of fair document screening and the university’s evaluation. Through this incident it was demonstrated that there are problems with universities’ evaluation systems and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology’s supervising manual.
<Should the national prestige enhancing people and their family be benefited?>
The hot potato of controversy, the qualifying condition of Yonsei University’s enhancing national prestige selection, is ‘a person or his/her children and grandchildren(including the mother’s side) who has awarded internationally authoritative prize in academic, cultural, artistic, scientific, technological, industrial, or athletic field, or who has remarkable achievement with enhancing national prestige of the Republic of Korea.’ The case of the former president Kim was since he performed 5 years of duty as a president of Republic of Korea and was awarded a medal, the university counted it as enhancing national prestige. The problem is that compared to other social contributors (such as people of national merits because of their contribution to independence or the movement for democracy) the necessity of giving merit for receiving well known prizes or medals doesn’t exist.
<Is Kim Young-sam a man who enhanced the national prestige?>
The formal president Kim Young-sam is evaluated as a person by the public and economists. Although Kim Young-sam’s tenure was in relatively affluent days, his misconception about understanding economy caused the IMF economic crisis in Korea in the late 1990’s because of government’s low exchange rate policy. Despite causing the South Korean economy to break down, he performed the 5 years of his presidential term and was awarded ‘The Medal of the Rose of Sharon’. ‘The Medal of the Rose of Sharon’ is the highest level of medal in the Republic of Korea, customarily given to presidents and first ladies. However, the majority of people consider him as a failed leader who performed poorly regarding enhancing national prestige and that is why people react to this situation negatively.
*President Kim Young-sam’s failed economic policy in 1990’s: In late 1990’s, the current president at that time, Kim Young-sam tried to maintain lower the exchange rate policy. However, he stuck to this policy too long and ultimately Korea did not have any dollars in The Bank of Korea by 1998. That was the reason why the Republic of Korea asked for the aid from IMF (International Monetary Fund).
<Subjective and Exclusive way of selection>
The fair selection of new students for admission with scholastic performance and competence, regardless of social status or asset, has been considered as the most important factor. This case caused controversy because the grandson of former president Kim is a member of the establishment and the selecting procedure for the selection of candidates is not transparent. Furthermore, the data that can verify the students’ competence objectively is not sufficient; the public doesn’t react favorably to this selection.
<Current selection process of Yonsei University>
STEP 1 Paper Selection 100%
STEP 2 Paper Selection 60% Interview & Oral Statement 40%
*paper selection = GPA + a letter of self-introduction + recommendation + extracurricular activities
<Solution>< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >
This controversy did not mean to take aim at the entire society contributor selection. Society contributor selection certainly should be encouraged for the sake of realizing a society of justice. Only before that, the range of beneficiaries should be set by an objective verification process and the agreement of the majority. Not only that, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and universities should demand the applicants under this selection prove their ability to attend the university such as submitting their CSAT (College Scholastic Ability Test) record. Also, the members of society should accept and approve of the revised policy in the long term.