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Seoul college sues Yale for $50m

Shin Jeong-ah, file image, 09/07
Ms Shin is currently on trial for forgery

A South Korean college is suing top US university Yale for $50m (25m) over an administrative error that snowballed into a national scandal.

Dongguk University made Shin Jeong-ah its art history professor in 2005 after Yale confirmed she had graduated there.

Two years later claims emerged that Ms Shin, the lover of a presidential aide, had never studied there. Yale then said it had confirmed her degree by mistake.

Dongguk told a US court the scandal had "irreparably damaged" its reputation.

In the fallout from "Shingate", as the affair has been dubbed by the Korean media, several other leading academics in South Korea were exposed as having lied about their degrees.

Ms Shin, who also became curator of one of the country's most prestigious art exhibitions, is now on trial in South Korea for forgery - a charge she denies.

'Regrettable' move

In papers filed in Connecticut District Court, the Seoul university says it has been "labelled as being dishonest and has been held up to disgrace and ridicule".

Dongguk claimed that the Ivy League university sent a fax message in September 2005 confirming that Ms Shin had studied there.

When suspicions about her credentials arose two years later Dongguk again contacted Yale. This time the US institution said Ms Shin had not graduated there and claimed the 2005 fax was forged.

Yale officials later admitted the fax had been sent by mistake and apologised.

The US university has not yet reacted to the news of the lawsuit, but last month spokesman Tom Conroy told the Yale Daily News college newspaper such a move would be "regrettable".

"We have apologised for the error and explained how we believe it occurred," he said.

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