Tycoons illegally enrolled children in foreign schools

Tycoons illegally enrolled children in foreign schools

Some business tycoons in Korea have bent the law to enroll their children in schools established for foreign students, a lawyer said Wednesday.

Offspring of conglomerate owners acquired residence permits or citizenships through possibly illegal means in order to gain admission to foreign schools here, said Rep. Jeong Jin-hoo of the minor opposition Justice Party at a parliamentary audit held at Government Complex-Sejong.

According to Jeong, Heesung Group chairman Koo Bon-neung, Doosan Engineering & Construction chief Park Jung-won, and members of the Hyundai family are believed to have used loopholes in the law to get their children into these schools.

The foreign schools, established for the benefit of foreigners residing in Korea, accept applications from students who have lived abroad for more than three years or who have at least one parent with foreign citizenship.

But over the years, these schools have been transformed into de facto elitist schools that collect high tuition fees and provide all-English curriculums.

They also have relatively high rates of graduates acceptance by foreign universities, prompting affluent families to bend the rules to get their children into these institutes.

According to Jeong, the eldest daughter of Heesung Group chairman Koo Bon-neung was given one of the spots allocated for Korean students at Seoul Academy International School in 2009.

But Jeong said that Koo's daughter did not have a green card from another country at the time, which is one of the requirements.

One year after she was admitted, though, Koo's family acquired a permanent resident card for Singapore, Jeong claimed.

The lawmaker raised questions about Doosan E&C chief Park's son, who he said was accepted at Seoul International School on a Singaporean green card despite having never lived in the country.

He also claimed that offspring of BNG Steel head Chung Il-sun and Hyundai Welding Co. chairman Chung Mong-suk obtained residence permits from Cambodia and Ecuador, respectively, using questionable means.

"Anyone who invests over 370 million (S$437,696) is able to acquire a residence permit from Cambodia," he said.

"The foreign school programme is being abused for the benefit of the rich and powerful. Prosecutors must conduct an investigation into the case, and must revise the regulations on this issue," Jeong said.

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