By Kim Rahn
Investigators are still in the dark as to details surrounding Shin Jeong-ah, the 35-year-old who falsified her educational credentials, although about two months have passed since her diploma forgery was disclosed.
She has lied about not only her academic record but also about her personal life with the lies snowballing. It is said that former presidential secretary Byeon Yang-kyoon, who met Shin as a fellow alumni from Yale University and allegedly had a ``close relationship'' with her, may not have known that she never graduated from the school.
When being hired as a Dongguk University assistant professor in 2005 and as a director for the 2008 Gwangju Biennale last July, Shin said she had obtained undergraduate and master's degrees at the University of Kansas, and a Ph.D. from Yale.
But she failed to present the proper documents to prove her educational background, and the ones she submitted were forged. Shin fled to New York in mid-July, saying she would go to Yale and clarify the allegations herself.
According to the JoongAng Ilbo, she recently told a reporter that she had not faked the diplomas and was actually the one being deceived, saying she had hired two lawyers and three detectives to search for a tutor who had helped her write her Ph.D. thesis.
With regard to speculation that Shin suffers from megalomania featuring delusions of grandeur, experts were negative.
``A megalomaniac believes what he or she says is true. Shin seems not to reflect on her lies, but if she was a megalomaniac, she would not have fled to the U.S.,'' said Kim Se-joo, a psychiatrist at the Severance Hospital.
He said that if Shin really believed her own lies, she would not have changed her remarks according to changes in the situation.
Kim said Shin seems to be rather suffering an antisocial personality disorder, as she appears to be infringing on others for her own interest without any sense of guilt or regret.
``I think Shin did all of it and changed her remarks easily as she, a smart person, does not have a sense of morality,'' he said.
Shin's financial status is also at the center of questions. According to a local court, she is a credit defaulter under a debt workout program, and most of her salary should have gone to paying her debts.
But she lived in a high-priced studio apartment, drove a BMW, and used to buy imported luxury goods _ which is why suspicions have emerged that someone has been financially supporting Shin's living costs and her current stay in the U.S.
Shin, however, claimed in the JoongAng Ilbo interview that she received 100 million won in annual income from the university and Sungkok Art Museum where she worked as chief curator. She also said she had a lot of money stored under her bed, which was later proven to be a lie during a raid on her home.