Ruling party proposes agency to probe education privilege of lawmakers’ children

SEOUL-- The ruling Democratic Party (DP) on Monday proposed setting up a special agency under parliament to probe into whether children of lawmakers received undue preferential treatment in gaining admission to colleges.

DP floor leader Lee In-young said he wants bipartisan agreement to his party's proposal to establish a joint agency involving the private and public sectors to look into possible educational privileges of lawmakers' children.

The DP proposed such a probe last week, and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) voiced willingness to accept it.

The move comes as education-related allegations involving the daughter of Justice Minister Cho Kuk hit a public nerve in the country, where admission to elite universities is a sensitive issue.

Lee suggested the agency will be operated under the parliamentary speaker and that more than half of its members need to be from civil society for fair investigations.

Later in the day, National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang and floor leaders of the political parties met to discuss the agenda but failed to reach a consensus due to different opinions on the probe schedule.

LKP and center-right Bareunmirae Party (BP) leaders favored the probe taking place after ongoing probes into Cho's family have wrapped up, while the DP did not agree to this plan.

LKP floor leader Na Kyung-won was reported to have said a special parliamentary probe into the justice minister case should take place first. BP floor leader Oh Shin-hwan supported the view, saying a parliamentary probe over Cho's family is "crucial."

The DP's Lee questioned their motive, saying he hopes they are not simply delaying until the joint agency agenda fizzles out.

Cho's 28-year-old daughter was listed as the primary author of a pathology paper published in a medical journal in 2008 after she took part in a two-week internship program while she was still in high school. There have been allegations that the paper may have helped her gain admission to Korea University in 2010.

LKP floor leader Na has faced similar public scrutiny over allegations that her son was listed as the lead writer of an abstract-like medical document that critics say might have helped him gain admission to Yale University.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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