South Korea Backers of Embryonic Stem Cell Researcher Field Candidates

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 15, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Korea Backers of Embryonic Stem Cell Researcher Field Candidates Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 15, 2006

Seoul, South Korea ( — Hwang Woo-suk and his team of embryonic stem cell researchers may be internationally disgraced and under indictment for research fraud and embezzlement. However, Hwang’s supporters are taking his cause to the ballot box and are fielding candidates for public office.

Hwang backers plan to run candidates in the upcoming local elections in South Korea and the lead agenda item on their platform is a move to press the Asian nation to allow Hwang to resume his controversial cloning and stem cell research.

The Korea Herald reports that, yesterday, they launched the "HwangWoo National Solidarity" to nominate candidates for gubernatorial and mayoral positions throughout the nation.

Elections will be held on May 31 in the nation’s 16 provinces and cities across the country.

"Candidates will promote the resumption of his research and the protection of his patent rights (for stem-cell technology)," the new party said in a statement. "They will also repeat our assertion that those with vested interests are responsible for the scandal."

The Herald reports that the group plans to field 101 candidates, a symbolic representation of the 101 human embryos they say Hwang successfully cloned. The candidates will have no party affiliation other than their link to the pro-Hwang group.

However, analysis from Seoul National University, independent researchers and the South Korean government determined that Hwang’s team never successfully cloned a human embryo. The scientific journal Nature revoked a paper making that claim.

Despite Hwang and his colleagues coming under indictment last week and the potential for long jail sentences, the pro-Hwang group shows no sign of giving up its support for the beleaguered scientist.

"We rolled up our sleeves to save Hwang Woo-suk and the nation," Go Zoon-hwan, a law professor of Kyonggi University who helped form the new pro-Hwang group, told the Herald.

The recruiting of candidates is a less controversial tactic Hwang’s supporters have employed. They have come under fire for violent protests and harassing SNU officials.