Prof. Lee Sang-mook of Seoul National University (SNU) Earth and Environmental Science department was embroiled in a 100 billion won ($100 million) damages suit filed by bereaved family members of his student, who died in a car accident Lee caused.
Lee is often known here as `Korean Stephen Hawking' for overcoming his disability and making academic achievement.
The accusers filed for the suit in a California state court claiming that Lee is responsible in causing the student's death, because he was the driver. In July 2006, Lee and his student had a car accident during a geological survey in Death Valley, CA. The student died and Lee was paralyzed from the neck down. However, Lee resumed lecturing in a wheelchair after six months of rehabilitation.
Okay, maybe he was responsible, but isn't ten million a bit much? Yes, I know you can't put a price on your child's life, in spite of what divorce lawyers say, but it looks like Lee's accusers have learned from their American forbears. They've even learned to grieve without dignity and turn into total pricks:
Besides Prof. Lee, other parties sued by the student's families are SNU, California Institute of Technology, automobile maker Ford and several other relevant organizations.
The article isn't very informative, and I hadn't heard about this guy until today so I don't know anything about him. But it doesn't sound like he's squirreling away money:
Prof. Lee recently published a book about his rehabilitation and vision. The profits from book sales goes to a foundation he established in the name of his dead pupil.
A quick look around Google doesn't bring up any references to the Stephen Hawking parallel outside of that KT article and this post. Looks like a creation of the author. But why not the Korean Jyh-Hann Chang, an asistant professor at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, who was paralyzed from the waist down when he was 19? Or the Korean Dr. Kanalu Young, the late professor at the University of Hawaii? Or the Korean Dr. George Jackson? Or, why not just Lee Sang-mook, a man whose struggles in a wheelchair-unfriendly country ought to be noteworthy in their own right.
These sorts of comparisons have been well-documented on this site. They are done to add credibility to Korean people and places and, it is assumed, to allow non-Koreans to connect to the things they probably never heard of before. The result of the comparisons, though, is that the Korean object is always cheapened because it can never live up to the original. Though they might be significant and good in their own right, when they're accompanied by tacky hyperbole they end up looking like cheap knock-offs. For those keeping score at home we have:
* Korea's Madonna - Uhm Jung-hwa
* Korea's Madonna - Gwangyang's own Chae-yeon
* Korea's Madonna - Bada
* Korea's Usher - Rain
* Korea's Justin Timberlake - Rain
* Korea's Beyonce - Gwangyang's own Kim Ok-bin
* Korea's Michael Jackson - Seo Taiji
* Korea's Angelina Jolie - Kim Hye-soo
* Korea's Naples - Tongyeong
* Korea's Hawaii - Jeju
* Korea's Manhattan - Yeouido
* Korea's Grand Canyon - Bulyeongsa Valley (LMFAO, thanks Michael).
* Korean Alps - mountains in Gangwon-do
* Korea's 9/11 - The Namdaemun arson
* Korea's Bangalore - Daejeon
* Korean Harry Potter - Woochi
* Korea's Lady Gaga - CL
* Korea's Moses Red Sea Miracle - Jindo Sea-Parting Festival
* Korea's Gandhi - Cho Man-sik
* Korea's Mariah Carey - Lena Park
* Korea's Barbie Doll - Han Chae-young
* Korea's Amsterdam