(AFP) – Mar 30, 2008
SEOUL (AFP) — A South Korean court Monday sentenced a former university art professor to 18 months in jail for forging her US degree certificates, officials said.
The Seoul District Criminal Court found Shin Jeong-Ah guilty of forging undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of Kansas and Yale University to secure a job at Seoul's Dongguk university.
With the fake degrees, Shin, 35, also won a co-directorship of the country's largest contemporary art exhibition. She has quit both posts.
She was a friend of Byeon Yang-Kyun, 58, who was dismissed last year as a top policy adviser to then-president Roh Moo-Hyun because of alleged corruption.
The court handed down a suspended one-year jail sentence to Byeon, along with 160 hours of community service, for abusing his position to help Shin further her career.
The pair were arrested in October last year. Byeon has denied any sexual relationship, saying they just shared an "artistic partnership."
The case sparked revelations and confessions about forged academic records from South Korean teachers and celebrities, as well as a legal battle between Dongguk University and Yale.
Authorities launched a probe into the academic backgrounds of thousands of professors, civil servants and others.
Prosecutors have indicted 215 people including doctors and architects for faking diplomas or using the forged documents to snare better jobs or positions.
Dongguk announced last week it is bringing a US lawsuit against Yale, seeking 50 million dollars in damages for wrongly confirming that Shin had a Yale doctorate. The US institution has reportedly said it will contest the lawsuit.
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