By Lee Kyung-min
Pressure is mounting for professors who returned to the teaching profession after quitting high-ranking government positions to resign because of their suspected involvement in the influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her confidant Choi Soon-sil.
The figures include former presidential secretary of education and culture Kim Sang-ryul, who started teaching at Sookmyung Women's University after stepping down in September, and former Culture Minister Kim Jong-deok, who returned to Hongik University.
The two allegedly secured the posts at the recommendation of Choi's close friend Cha Eun-taek, a visual art director who was appointed as a member of the Presidential Committee for Cultural Enrichment in August 2014. Kim Sang-ryul is Cha's uncle and Kim Jong-deok was his graduate school professor.
On Monday, a student representative at Sookmyung handed Kim Sang-ryul a petition signed by 1,695 students demanding his resignation over the allegation he and his nephew sought to benefit themselves by attempting to obtain business rights for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Earlier this month, the prosecution questioned him over the allegation, as well as his suspected intervention in school policy at Ewha Womans University to help Choi's daughter Chung Yoo-ra get better grades.
"Professor, you are at the center of numerous corruption allegations involving Choi," the students said in the statement. "We wonder why you are implicated in this massive scandal. We believe you are responsible for causing the allegations to surface, therefore we demand your resignation."
Similarly, Hongik students discussed measures to demand the university dismiss or suspend Kim Jong-deok.
Kim was questioned over the allegation he facilitated approval for establishing the controversial Mir and K-Sports foundations controlled by Choi, and helped Choi's associates win bidding or financial support for other culture- or sports-related state projects.
Former Vice Minister of Culture Kim Chong, who was arrested on Nov. 22 over his alleged involvement in the scandal, is now a professor at Hanyang University. Kim Hyung-su, who was the inaugural head of Mir Foundation, returned to Yonsei University. Students there also criticize them for disgracing the schools.