Lesson in Korea from Research Fakes

Posted by: Ihlwan Moon on March 5, 2008

A probe into another research faking scandal holds a lesson for South Korea: Pressuring to produce quick results is no longer a recipe to make Korea a truly advanced nation.

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology says its science professor Kim Tae Kook, who once said he wanted to become as famous as Korean stem cell expert Hwang Woo Suk, has been suspended for fabricating data in his two research papers claiming breakthroughs in life science. The university, which earlier said Kim had found ways of fighting cancer and increasing the lifespan of human cells, declared that Kim manipulated microscopic photos to fabricate study results.

The Korean government of former president Roh Moo Hyun, who ended his term in February, made a mistake of hailing Hwang for finding a shortcut for biotech revolution. In 2005, Hwang was fired from Seoul National University, which ruled that he fabricated his data in his 2004 paper in Science claiming to have cloned the first human stem cell.

Now, the lesson is that Korea needs to control this desire to move ahead rapidly. The new government of President Lee Myung Bak has set a goal of lifting Korea to the world’s No. 7 economy from the current No. 13 by seeking annual growth of 7%. Lee must remember that Korea needs respects for integrity and other values to be recognized as more than just a commercial or economic success.

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