May 24, 2024


Seoul National University is due to release the results of its investigation into the Hwang Woo-suk stem cell debacle today. At the moment, all of his achievements are under suspicion, even the cows he cloned in 1999 which first made him famous in Korea. Government funding for the World Stem Cell Hub, which was to have made Korea a world biotech leader, has been withdrawn.

The report is sure to be a crushing blow to Korean pride, as Hwang had been designated the nation’s "supreme scientist". With his 365- day-a-year working habits, he was held up as a role model for Korean children. More than 10 cartoon biographies for children were published after he announced in May that he had created 11 embryonic stem cell lines.

Most despondent could be the 14,000 people who had registered themselves or their children with the Hub in the hope of cures. "I had pinned all my hopes on Dr Hwang after I heard that he had cured a dog with a spinal cord injury through stem cell treatment," paraplegic Park Seung-yoo told the Joong Ahn Daily. "I think about how I’m never going to walk again and I just want to die."