By Lee Hyo-sik
Seoul’s top educator Kwak No-hyun has begun performing his duties behind bars at the Seoul Detention Center, south of the capital, showing his determination not to resign from his post.
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said Thursday that its three senior officials paid a visit to Kwak for the first time to brief him on a range of pending business issues.
Kwak, superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, has been detained since last Friday when the court issued an arrest warrant on charges of bribing a rival candidate in last year’s election to pick Seoul’s top educator.
``Three officials briefed Kwak on a number of issues, including a free school meal program and an ordinance on student rights. He will again receive a report from officials at 5 p.m. Friday,’’ said Cho Shin, a spokesman for the education office.
Kwak is allowed to meet with up to three people on official matters for 30 minutes twice a week.
The spokesman said the education office will continue to report to Kwak twice a week until he is indicted, adding that the office will perform under his instructions.
His official duties behind bars will likely come to an end soon as the prosecution is expected to indict him for breaking election laws.
Kwak is suspected of giving 200 million won to Park Myoung-gee, a professor of Seoul National University of Education, in return for the latter’s withdrawal from the election.
The educator admitted that he gave Park money on six occasions between February and April and appointed him as a member of an advisory council at the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education. But he flatly denies the bribery allegations, insisting that the money had nothing to do with the election, but was a token of ``goodwill.’’
Kwak has also refused to disclose how he made 100 million of the 200 million won. Kwak’s wife earlier told investigators that half of the 200 million won given to Park was her and her sister’s money, while the remaining 100 million was from Kwak.
Prosecutors believe that the education chief was deeply engaged in the negotiations over the candidacy and his payment was in exchange for Park’s withdrawal.
If convicted, Kwak could receive a jail term of up to seven years or be fined 5 to 30 million won, punishment that would be severe enough to strip him of his post.