In response to an immolation suicide at- tempt by a security guard who allegedly was abused by the apartment dwellers he was hired to protect, the country’s largest left- wing coalition of labor unions demanded an apology from the residents’ committee. During a press conference held at the scene of the tragedy, the Shin Hyundai Apartments in Apgujeong-dong, southern Seoul, members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions criticized the poor working conditions faced by security guards, due largely to rude behav - ior by some residents. “The incident was the result of disrespect and abusive language commonly employed by some residents,” the KCTU said. A security guard identified by the surname Lee, 53, attempted suicide at the Shin Hyun- dai complex, one of the poshest addresses in Seoul, by dousing himself with paint thinner and setting himself ablaze in a resident’s au- tomobile, according to a briefing by the Gang- nam Police Precinct. A resident who witnessed the act imme- diately called the police, and other security guards at the apartment complex subdued the flames with fire extinguishers, authorities said. Lee was transported to a nearby hospital to be treated in an intensive care unit for third-degree burns. The injuries were not life-threatening, police said. The KCTU released a photo of Lee to the press, which showed him wrapped in band- ages from head to chest and breathing with the aid of a respirator. He hasn’t gained consciousness since the su- icide attempt, the group said. “There may be several reasons behind the suicide attempt,” an officer from the Gangnam Police Precinct said. “We’re exploring possibil- ities including personal insults by residents.” Lee will be summoned upon recovery, the police said. Lee’s cow orkers at Shin Hyundai, who along with Lee are affiliated with the KCTU, were quoted by local media as saying that Lee was anguished by the behavior of some of the apartment residents. Lee was insulted by a particular resident right before the suicide attempt, guards said. The KCTU provided a few details about the suspected abuser. “We were told by Lee’s colleagues that a res- ident of building No. 103 frequently scolded him for doing a poor job on recycling,” and that the suspect hurled food at Lee, “making him feel mortified.” Shin Hyundai’s residents committee has yet to make a statement about the incident. In 2010 a security guard named Lee, 65, leaped to his death from the roof of an apart- ment complex in which he worked. In a suicide note, he said he hoped other guards wouldn’t suffer the same verbal and physical violence he had. KCtu says abuse of watChmen mu st Cease in College aDmissions, lies outsm art Two years ago, when Mrs. Lee’s 20-year- old son was found to have lied on his college application papers and later was expelled from his university, she was furi- ous. But she wasn’t angry because he had acted immorally; rather, she was more upset because, in her mind, it was useless to blame him for something everyone else did, too. “In Gangnam, everyone does this,” Lee reportedly told police. “Why is he the only one getting in trouble?” Further investigation proved that her son, surnamed Sohn, also had an accom- plice — his teacher. When authorities looked into the case, they found that Sohn had received an undeserved award in an art competition for a piece he hadn’t created. His teach - er switched the boy’s name with anoth- er student and submitted the work on Sohn’s behalf. His teacher’s recommendation letter also included details of volunteer work he had never completed. Sohn applied to college in the early ad- missions stage, which assesses an appli- cant’s transcripts, extracurricular activ- ities, academic awards, volunteer work, recommendation letters and grades. In Korea, regular admissions normally evaluate applicants’ scores on the College Scholastic Ability Test, a standardized exam held every November. Thirty-five percent of the seats available at local col- leges next year will be chosen via regular admissions, while the remaining 65 per- cent will be selected through early admis- sions. One in 4 early admissions slots will be determined through criteria similar to that which determined Sohn’s admis- sion. But if Sohn’s case is any indication, university officials are mostly helpless at verifying certain information, and similar fabrications often fly under the radar. “There’s really not much we can do but believe whatever documents were au- thorized by the high school,” said one uni- versity admissions officer, who asked for anonymity. “It’s hard to tell which paper was fabricated when you have students and teachers collaborating in the scheme.” Kim Kyeong-bum, a Seoul National Uni- versity professor who screens admis- sions materials, acknowledged that the screening process isn’t easy, but that he looks for inconsistencies or other telltale signs that a cover letter may have been fabricated — if an applicant volunteered at a hospital, for instance, ahead of school exams. Indeed, tracking lies can be difficult, es- pecially when considering that referenc- es aren’t required in some universities, like Konkuk and Dongguk universities, as well as Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, all of which scored in the top 20 in this year’s college evaluation rankings by the JoongAng Ilbo. Another problem is that admissions consultation companies prey on these weak points by ghostwriting cover let- ters in return for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of won. And for parents like Mrs. Jang, 48, en- trusting those companies is inevitable, as cover letters all come down to composi- tion skills. “How different can high school students be in their extracurricular activities?” she said. “Really, it’s more about the way you present that record.” The early admissions procedures that focus on applicants’ track records in high school, rather than on numerical data like CSAT scores, were based on government efforts to provide better opportunities for students from rural areas and low - er-income brackets, most of whom lack the financial means to enroll in expensive private tutoring academies, or hagwons. But Kim Kyung-suk, head of the Korean Council for University Education, argues that the procedure isn’t what is wrong with the system; rather, it’s the deception some teachers willingly choose to engage in with their students. “Though it might be a bit tiring for students, local universi- ties should require evidential documents from them” to justify their recorded ex- tracurricular activities, Kim said. For Sohn, it was a hard lesson to learn. He has since earned permission to enter a different school.