Kookmin University Exonerates First Lady from Plagiarism Charges in a Dubious Proceeding

Text similarity rate of 43% and absurd discussion of phrenology were not enough to disqualify Kim Geon-hee's doctoral dissertation.

Kookmin University Exonerates First Lady from Plagiarism Charges in a Dubious Proceeding

Photo: Alumni of Kookmin University return their diploma in protest of the school's exoneration of First Lady Kim Geon-hee from charges of plagiarism. Credit: Emergency Response Committee of Kookmin University Alumni Association.

Kookmin University 국민대학교 concluded the doctorate paper and other academic articles penned by First Lady Kim Geon-hee 김건희 영부인 were not plagiarized, in a dubious proceeding that prompted protests.

Kim’s papers had been a subject of controversy since the presidential election as they were clearly subpar. (See previous coverage, “The Spousal Risk.”) One of the papers had a text similarity rate of 43% (over 25% is considered egregious plagiarism), and had the same typos as the original text that was included without citation.

The paper’s title also included an obvious error, as it transliterated the Korean title “membership retention 회원 유지” to “member Yuji” rather than translating the meaning. The content of the papers borders on ridiculous; one of the papers discussed phrenology in couples pairing, arguing a man with coarse hair matches well with a woman with a large mouth and a bald man, with a woman with a prominent chin.

Kookmin University’s report exonerating Kim was released on Friday afternoon, and contained no information on who examined the papers. Some of Kookmin University’s alumni returned their diplomas in protest. Thirteen associations of college professors issued a joint statement condemning the decision, calling for Kookmin to strip Kim’s doctorate.

Meanwhile, the president of Sookmyung Women’s University 숙명여자대학교, where Kim received her master’s degree, said the school was facing “political pressure” in its examination of Kim’s masters thesi

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