Fakes and curruption in art and academia

There has been a number of stories of fakes recently. Here’s a brief round-up of links

Shin Jeong-ah1 Shin Jeong-ah.

  • Shin Jeong-ah was 23 when the 1995 collapse of the Sampoong Department Store in Seoul buried her in darkness. She lay in the rubble for 24 hours before getting plucked out. Shin was one of the few survivors of the worst collapse in Korean history, which killed more than 500 people. From the day of the collapse on, Shin said she vowed to change. Instead of being shy and reclusive, she developed an aggressive, extroverted personality.
  • “She just tried to organize exhibitions of only big-name artists to draw the public’s attention.”
  • “Her exhibitions rarely featured any new or local talent. She concentrated on getting ‘the spotlight exhibitions’ from well-known foreign artists.”
  • “From time to time, people raised suspicions about her background,” said the head of a private museum, on condition of anonymity. “But the rumor was that she was acquainted with the most influential people and that nobody should dare dig into the suspicion.”
  • “The fine art community, which puts a priority on background rather than capability, and the media, which scrambled to lift her reputation without verifying anything, are both at fault”
  • Jung Woo-taek, an art history professor at Dongguk, claimed Shin was given special favors when she was hired in the art history department in September 2005.
    “There were objections from professors at that time since she studied Western art history, but our department teaches Buddhist art history,” said Jung, who was the head of the department at the Buddhist university in 2005. “But the school unilaterally made the decision to hire her.”
    Shin claimed to have a Ph.D. from Yale earned in April 2005, and she also submitted what she said was her dissertation about the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire. The dissertation was found to be almost identical to a previously published work by someone else.
  • A rising star in her field, Shin, 35, was about to add another title to her impressive resume on July 4 when she was named the artistic co-director of the 2008 Gwangju Biennale, Korea’s biggest arts event.
    The official announcement was slated for Monday. Only one problem. Shin has just been caught falsifying her academic records, including her claim to hold a doctorate from Yale University and two degrees from the University of Kansas.

Shin Jeong-ah and Byeong Yang-kyoon

Lee Ji-young2 Lee Ji-young (right): Famous English Teacher a Fraud, Korea Times, 19 July

3 Press comment on the above:

  • In Korea, it is not rare for academics or instructors to come to fame based on false academic certificates or backgrounds

4 Massive Corruption Scandal Rocks Korea’s Art Community, Chosun, 17 May 2007:

A police investigation has revealed that many winners of the Grand Art Exhibition of Korea, the country’s largest art contest, were chosen through bribery and corruption.

The shocking investigation involves 36 officials with the Korea Fine Arts Association (KFA), the country’s leading arts organization, 20 art professor judges, and other influential organizations and individuals.

5 The Canadian English teacher, known only as “J”, who faked a BA to get a job in Korea.

6 Update 21 August 2007. Professors routinely pass substandard work, says Sungkyunkwan University art professor Jung Jin-soo in the Chosun.

Some 60-70 percent of advanced degree holders in Korea are unqualified, and professors are to blame for approving substandard work

7 Academic degrees under closer scrutiny, JoongAng Daily, 23 August 2007. Some extracts:

  • Jolted by the bogus degree scandal triggered by one of its former art professors, Dongguk University said yesterday it will conduct education and career background checks on all faculty members.
  • Sungkyunkwan University also said yesterday that it canceled the master’s and doctoral degrees it had awarded to Kim Ock-rang, the well-known CEO of the DongSoong Art Center and one of the most influential figures in Korea’s art world. Kim, who was also an art management professor of Dankook, had submitted a fake undergraduate diploma to enter the university’s graduate school in 1997, the school said.
  • With the scandals growing, the Korea Council for University Education said it will establish a degree verification center.

Other links:

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