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MBC TV Offers Apology for Improper Approach
Prof. Hwang Woo-Suk with his staff in his research lab in Seoul

MBC-TV offered a public apology on Sunday night for the unethical conduct of its producers of an investigative program as they reported suspicions concerning Prof. Hwang Woo-suk's stem cell research.

The apology came after all news cable TV network YTN channel broadcast on Sunday afternoon a series of interview with the feeder cell expert Kim Son-jong and another researcher which was filmed recently in the United States.

Kim claimed MBC blackmailed him to provide information revealing that Hwang' s stem cell exploits are fraud. He also described it as totally groundless that he did make a crucial confession regarding the authenticity of Hwang's research which MBC TV producer disclosed during a news conference last week. Kim is now at the University of Pittsburgh.

In the meantime, Reuters said in its dispatch from Seoul that researchers in other countries are all too eager to see Hwang go down in flames.

"Hwang really is the face of stem cell research and cloning research right now. He has been lionized in some ways," Reuters said pointing out that he enjoys enormous public and government support, which has only grown stronger since his apology last month for ethical breaches in his breakthrough research.

International standards ban egg donations by researchers, especially junior staff who may be more vulnerable to pressure.

Hwang apologized and stepped down from all official posts, including the chairmanship of a new state-financed research body, the World Stem Cell Hub.

Over ther weekend, Prof. Hwang Woo-Suk of Seoul National University cancelled his press conference which he planned on Dec. 4, 2005.

On Dec. 3, 2005 Roh Sung-Il of Miz Medi Hospital said that Prof. Hwang's press conference would be delayed several days later on Hwang's request.

Roh said that Prof. Hwang postponed his press meeting because he needed "internal coordination" within his stem cell research team headed by Hwang.

The exact day of Prof. Hwang's press conference will be announced later after internal discussion, Roh added.

Prof. Hwang announced that he would explain details at 2 p.m. Dec. 4, 2005 about all the questions about his research raised by local network TV MBC, journalists.

Roh said that the next press conference will be conducted by one of Prof. Hwang's research team. Roh serves as president of Miz Medi Hospital where Prof. Hwang collected eggs for his stem cell research.

Prof. Hwang, a pioneer of stem cell research, has been avoiding media contact since his research was questioned by MBC over ethical issues and even tampering with his research data.

Prof. Hwang has been staying in a remote Buddhist temple, according to local news reports. He is a devoted Buddhist.

Since MBC's investigative documentary program "PD Notebook" bravely raised questions over Prof. Hwang's research, the network TV has been under attack from the "patriotic" local netizens (internet citizen) and from conservative sections of the media.

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