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Buddhist Leader Denies Diploma Forgery

By Kang Shin-who, The Korea Times, Spet 13, 2007

Seoul, South Korea -- A major Buddhist leader Thursday denied allegations about academic wrongdoing in his past.

<< Ven. Ji Kwan

Ven. Ji Kwan, 75, executive director of the Jogye Order of Korea Buddhism, the largest Buddhist sect in the nation, admitted that he earned a university degree despite not graduating from middle and high school, but said this was simply due to ignorance of university admission system.

``The head priest of my temple and other seniors provided me school expenses so I could attend Masan University as a junior student. It was a special procedure, something like admission through,'' Ji Kwan said during a news conference at the Jogye Temple in Seoul.

The monk denied forging any of his academic records.

"When I was appointed as president of Dongguk University in 1986, my diploma issue was controversial. I feel embarrassed now as the problem is causing trouble again,'' he added.

He also said that he did not meet former presidential secretary Byeon Yang-kyoon before Shin Jeong-ah's diploma forgery scandal erupted.

Regarding the recent turmoil over diploma forgery scandals, he expressed regret and apologized as chief administrative manager of the Jogye Order.

Hyung Eung, head monk of Haein Temple, participated in the conference and defended Ji Kwan.

``It may be problematic as to whether Ji Kwan's admission to university was proper or not. But he didn't fabricate or forge his diploma,'' Hyung Eung said.

With a bachelors degree from Masan University, Ji Kwan obtained a masters degree in 1969 and a Ph.D in philosophy from Dongguk University, a Buddhist school, in 1976.

He was hired at the school as a professor in 1975 and became the 11th president of the school in 1986. Ji Kwan has been in his current position since 2005.

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