After three years and 43 hearings, the Korean court finally decided to put an end to the whole Hwang scandal. Hwang was sentenced to 2 years in prison but the sentence is suspended for 3 years. Basically what this means is that Hwang is supposed to go to jail for two years but that it’s being put off for three years; if Hwang does not violate the law during that time, the jail sentence is cleared and the guilty verdict no longer applies. In most cases with high-profile in Korea, a person who receives this kind of sentence will end up not going to jail.
*Bioethics law violation => GUILTY
*Fraud => NOT GUILTY (The Times Online says “guilty of fraud” which is incorrect)
*Embezzling funds => GUILTY
Despite the disgrace, Hwang isn’t in such a bad position (he seems pretty happy in all the press photos). He’s head of Sooam Biotech, a privately funded research center where he continues to do cloning work on animals instead of humans (good call: although he faked the human cloning research, he was proven to have cloned the world’s first dog). Since then, he’s been cloning dogs for commercial purposes and cloning mini pigs for human organ transplants.
A few months ago, he signed an MOU with Gyeonggi province to conduct joint research to clone gnotobiotic mini pigs that have diabetes so that they can test drugs on the pigs. (Apparently pigs are better subjects than rats.) He also has a bunch of devout followers (comprised of various religious groups, politicians…) who not only support him emotionally, but are willing to shell out their money for his research.