To the ​Global Academic Community

[Updated on July 17, 2019]

Request to Join “Association to Support Professor Mikyoung Kim”

Dear Friends and Colleagues of the Global Academic Community,

We would like to ask you to join the “Association to Support Professor Mikyoung Kim.” We thank those of you who have already joined our collective efforts. We encourage all the visitors and readers to circulate this appeal as widely as possible. Please use your SNS and words to spread the information on this legal fight. Thank you very much for your kind cooperation.

Professor Mikyoung Kim was arrested by the Hiroshima Police on March 6, 2017, on the suspicion of illegally obtaining airfare related to Hiroshima City University (HCU) Long Term Training Program. She was released on March 17, 2017, by the prosecution’s non-indictment decision. On the same day, however, HCU notified her of disciplinary dismissal. As a result of the dismissal, Professor Mikyoung Kim has lost her job and her visa status in Japan. She moved to Seoul, Korea in May 2017 and is now staying in her hometown of Busan, Korea.

Professor Mikyoung Kim thought of HCU Long Term Training Program as usual sabbatical because HCU did not explain their idiosyncratic rules to her in English at the time of her application as well as after the selection. She was hired as an English-speaking international faculty by HCU. Japanese language skills were not a part of her contract, and her Japanese was not proficient enough to understand the highly unusual rules in fine prints. She thought that she could freely choose the location of her research activities during the period until HCU’s premature termination of her Long Term Training Program in February 2015.

One month after her application to HCU Long Term Training Program on June 2013, Professor Mikyoung Kim applied for the fellowship of the Korea Foundation. She stayed in the metropolitan Seoul area as a Korea Foundation fellow. Her host institution was the Academy of Korean Studies from April until August 2014. Upon the expiration of the fellowship, she continued her research activities as a visiting researcher at the Asia Center of Seoul National University. At the time of the Korea Foundation fellowship application, she received a letter of recommendation from Mr. Gen Kikkawa, the director of the Hiroshima Peace Institute (HPT) at HCU. And he hand-signed his own letter of recommendation for Professor Kim. She also verbally briefed him on her research plans in Korea on December 2013. The Director knew well that Professor Mikyoung Kim was going to conduct research activities in Korea.

However, the Hiroshima City University claimed that the acquisition of airfare at the amount of 340,000 Yen was false because she had not carried out the research at the University of Cambridge in the UK as had stated in the HCU Long Term Training Program application. HCU ignored the fact that Mr. Kikkawa urged her to claim the airfare while fully knowing that she was in Korea and did not go to the UK. Prior to Professor Kim’s dismissal, HCU fired two peace researchers from HPI. They were non-tenured female peace researchers. HCU’s President, furthermore, threatened her that the university was going to stop giving the overseas training opportunities to her HPI colleagues because of her unintentional mistake.

HCU filed a criminal complaint against her with the Hiroshima Police. At that time, Professor Mikyoung Kim had already returned the entire airfare plus interest to the university. There was absolutely no indication that she intended to obtain the money out of greed. The Hiroshima Prosecutor’s Office judged that her alleged crime did not have plausible motivation. Furthermore, they suspected that she was framed and trapped by HCU in order to terminate her employment as a tenured faculty. HCU’s assertion that her action was unusually malicious is unequivocally unfair. There were clear and obvious circumstantial dynamics that pressured her to claim the airfare by multiple parties at HCU.  

We argue that the essence of this case is on the continuum of the malicious abuse of power, and gender- and ethnicity-based harassments against Professor Mikyoung Kim who is a Korean woman scholar with remarkable academic achievements. HCU had devised a plan to make her a criminal in order to justify their dismissal of the tenured faculty. She had filed two harassment petitions against Mr. Kikkawa in March 2016 and August 2016. The university is refusing to review her petitions for the past three and a half years.

HCU ordered Professor Kim to submit the record of her daily activities during the overseas stay, confiscated her passport against her will, denied her of impartial investigation of the Long Term Training Program, and decided to file the criminal complaint soon after the establishment of Faculty Disciplinary Review Committee. The series of actions carried out by HCU show obvious and clear lack of judicious and fair deliberation as for Japan’s advanced educational institution. Human rights violations against Professor Kim had been going on for many years prior to the arrest and dismissal. These behaviors should never be accepted as a way to treat a university faculty.

Professor Mikyoung Kim decided to file a lawsuit against HCU to the Hiroshima District Court to recover her previous professorial status, to restore the lost dignity and to reclaim her honor. We believe that HCU’s disciplinary dismissal against her is the heaviest possible punishment equal to a death penalty to an academic. It not only lacks objective reasoning, but it also violates the widely accepted social norms. It, therefore, should be invalidated.

Professor Kim was not paid any severance fee at the approximate amount of 4.50 million Yen (USD40,000) and lost the right to receive university faculty remuneration. Due to this dismissal, she also faces the danger of permanently losing her professional career. We all know very well about Professor Kim’s scholarly prominence and personal integrity.

We are now willing to stand by her, supporting economically and spiritually with our camaraderie. However, our power is limited while the adversary is well endowed with resources and political connections. Until Professor Mikyoung Kim wins the lawsuit, we need to rely on your support.

We would like to appeal to you to join the “Association to support Professor Mikyoung Kim.” If you agree with the appeal, please contact one of the following four main supporters. Each one of them is living in the respective locale of Tokyo (Japan), Hiroshima (Japan), Seoul (Korea) and Los Angeles (USA).

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

Yours sincerely,

*Masaki INA (Former Professor at International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan)

*Tadashi SAWADA (a member of Japan Congress of Journalists, Hiroshima, Japan) 

*Kyounghwa LIM (Choongang University, Seoul, Korea)

*Donghyun WOO (University of California-Los Angeles, CA., USA)


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