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Posted : 2007-06-20 18:43
Updated : 2007-06-20 18:43

Smokers Face Admission Handicap


Oh Myung
President of Konkuk University
By Kang Shin-who
Staff Reporter

Smokers will face a possible disadvantage when they apply for admission to Konkuk University from next year.

Oh Myung, president of the school, unveiled the plan in an interview with The Korea Times Tuesday.He said Konkuk is preparing measures disadvantageous for college hopefuls who smoke.

The school has already been reviewing whether a preferential admission policy for nonsmoking students would cause legal problems or not. ``There is a big possibility that we will lose an administrative lawsuit if we deduct points from smoking students in admission scores. However, there will be no problem if we add points to nonsmoking students,’’ Oh said. ``I will definitely introduce the new system to remove smoking students from our school.''

Oh also plans to exclude smokers from faculty members. ``The government pays a huge amount of money every year to deal with the damage caused by smoking. Although we cannot exactly tell smokers from nonsmokers during admission interview, we will ask the students to sign an agreement that they will not smoke,’’ Oh said.

Based on the written pledge, the school can secure grounds to enable it to enforce strict controls on puffing students.

In addition, Oh will start a campaign for a responsible drinking culture at the school. ``It is more important for a university to foster well-rounded students than to convey knowledge to them,’’ he said.

An official of the Education and Human Resources Ministry said that he is unsure whether the plan would cause legal or administrative problems. ``We need to monitor the legal aspect of the scheme,’’ he said.

The school students showed mixed reactions but most of them agreed that the plan will not be realized. ``Environment will be better but I am skeptical whether the policy will be feasible or not,’’ said business administration major Lee A-young. The student association president Kim Woo-jin said that they will take proper action against the change although he is confident the plan would never be realized.

However, Sung Nak-in, a constitutional law professor of the Seoul National University, said that Konkuk’s plan has a possibility to come true.

``In view of negative social sentiment against smoking and second-hand smoking, we cannot exclude the possibility that the new admission system will become prevalent. But I want to point out it has some controversial elements,’’ he said.

South Korea is ranked top in the ratio of smokers against population among OECD member countries and 42,000 die of smoking-related illness annually. The youth smoking rate is also high compared to other countries and has increased since the middle of 1980.

kswho@koreatimes.co.kr

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