Cheating: How intelligence can harm other

Korea, September 25th,
In a public news briefing, Korean Police Department released a report uncovering the latest cheating scheme conducted by 5 mediators. According to an anonymous tip, these 5 individuals are said to have helped 18 Vietnamese students passed the Test Of Proficiency In Korean (TOPIK) held last April in Hanoi in order to get the D-4-6 visa, an industrial training visa in Korea. The aforementioned group of students were shortly deported back after arriving at Gimhae airport on September 15th. This incident is worth pausing for thoughts about the gravity of cheating and its involvement with technology and intellectuals.

There is an unspoken correlation between the development of technology and new cheating methods. Back to the time when technological devices were limited, cheating in class was simply some formulas written on the hand or on student’s stationeries. Today, advancements in technology tempt students to find increasingly devious ways to cheat. For example, students can use social media to send pictures of exams and forward them to dozens of friends. Microscopic transmission devices confiscated during the National Entrance Exam and cheat sheets detected in memory banks of student’s calculators further demonstrates the involvement of technology in cheating.

Nevertheless, the climax point has yet been reached until the intellectuals take part in the process. According to the report, each student has to pay 15 million won (more than 12.000USD) to the 5 mediators. One of them, Mr A, who took the test and got the answers out, is a 27-year-old Vietnamese man who has a Master’s Degree from Seoul National University. In preparation for the TOPIK scheme, A and his accomplices colluded with several universities in Hanoi to take the test without being suspected. After finishing the 100-minute test in just 20 minutes, he then gave the answers to 12 other accomplices waiting outside who then relay the answers via a microscopic speaker planted in the student’s ear. We saw a similar premise portrayed in the acclaimed Thai movie Bad Genius in which Lyn, an academically stellar student, along with her friends orchestrated a cheating scheme in the STIC examination. Far from praising the aforementioned acts as a display of intelligence or a missed opportunity, we must acknowledge the collusion of intellectuals in these cheating schemes, which had done more harm than good.

As we can see, both Lyn, a Mathematics champion, and A, a Master’s Degree holder from one of the top universities, are brilliant individuals. That being said, their academic competence was utilised for a dishonest act that caused negative consequences for everyone: the potential cancellation of more than 2000 scores of good students, the stigma that may forever be attached to A and Lyn, the Master’s Degree that A may no longer hold. This is an important reminder for all of us: do not tradeoff intelligence and hard-working years of education for cheating.

In all, this scandal is only one fragment in hundreds more that affect the education system and academic integrity. Cheaters and mediators like A, who exploit technological advancement to disregard hard work and honor, should be condemned. The same goes for Lyn in Bad Genius with her atonement at the end of the movie that draws the conclusion for us: their intelligence was ultimately their downfall.

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