Justice Minister Accepted University Salary Without Ever Working
Ben Lee, Sept. 11, 2019, 10:15 a.m.
Justice Minister Cho Kuk earned W10 million in wages from Seoul National University without coming to work even once during the last 40 days before his ministerial appointment (US$1=W1,192). Cho returned to teaching law at the university after leaving his post as chief presidential secretary for civil affairs but did not do a stroke of work before applying for another leave of absence this week to take up the controversial ministerial post.
Cho's wife Chung Kyung-shim, a professor at Dongyang University, also informed the school that she will not be able to continue teaching two classes she had been assigned. The same day her husband went through his confirmation hearing Friday, Chung was indicted for forging documents to ease their daughter's admission to prestigious schools.
SNU is a state-run university and professors can take leaves of absence if they are appointed to other public posts. There are no limitations on the number of times an SNU professor can take leave in such cases. According to Liberty Korea Party lawmaker Kwak Sang-do, Cho returned to SNU on Aug. 1 and will be paid that month’s salary on Sept. 17. The university declined to say exactly how much Cho earned, but Kwak said other SNU professors in the same wage bracket are paid W8.45 million a month on average.
For this month the justice minister will receive another W2.5 million according to the number of days he was ostensibly at work. But in reality Cho did not teach a single class or take part in any research since returning to SNU and took on no classes for the upcoming semester, as if he was 100 percent sure he was going to be appointed justice minister.
Cho told reporters during a marathon press conference on Sept. 2 that he "did not want to affect his students' academic schedules" by taking an extended leave of absence and added, "I will discuss the matter with the government and the school and make a decision that ensures no excessive violations are made to the right of students to take classes."
But SNU president Oh Se-jung said Cho "has not consulted with me about taking a leave of absence or resigning." Because Cho has chosen to retain his chair while on leave, SNU will not be able to hire another full professor to teach criminal law, which is Cho's specialty in more ways than one.Chung, meanwhile, has telephoned her university to say she is "not in a situation to teach this semester," according to Dongyang sources. Dongyang will cancel one of two classes Chung taught while assigning the other to another professor.