The Korea Times reported on Dec. 25:
With the return of a key member in Professor Hwang Woo-suk's controversial stem cell research from the University of Pittsburgh Saturday night, people's concerns are focused on whether Hwang really created at least two patient-specific stem cells, regarded as his last line of defense. But it is generally accepted that Kim Sun-jong, a researcher at the MizMedi Hospital, will fail to resolve the issue because it seems the two cells no longer exist.
The latest suspicion over the authenticity of the two cells was raised by Hwang himself on Thursday [Dec. 22] when he filed a suit against Kim with the prosecution, claiming that Kim replaced not only the two cells but also some others with the stem cells created by MizMedi with the artificially produced embryos. Hwang sued his research member a day before an investigative committee of Seoul National University made public its interim report, confirming that Hwang fabricated the data in his paper published in the U.S.-based journal Science in May. As already known, nine of the 11 stem cells in the paper which Hwang said were produced from the embryos cloned with the body cells of the 11 patients were fabricated with the two others. Weeks before his arrival, Kim, an expert on cultivating stem cells, confessed to his manipulation of the pictures of the nine bogus cells on Hwang's order.
Hwang's accusation of his research partner the day before the SNU panel revealed the report on its investigation of his false paper induces many people to distrust his claim that he discovered that the two cells were also replaced with two stem cells made at MizMedi, a fertility clinic in Seoul. They speculate that the results of DNA tests of the two cells, which the SNU committee said will be revealed in a few days, may compel Hwang to accuse his team member in order to cover up another bombshell hoax that he created the controversial cells.
As Kim protested, it is regarded as impossible for Kim to replace Hwang's stem cells with those made at MizMedi in light of the tight supervision of his activities by Hwang's research team. Even though Kim claimed that he actually cultivated some patient-specific stem cells, there is the possibility that they might be those provided by MizMedi. The reason is that Kim only took part in cultivating stem cells, which Hwang said were made from the cloned embryos.
As Hwang already indicated that the two cells at issue no longer exist, it is certain that the SNU investigation team will be unable to discover the true nature of his experiments which once amazed the world, but now stun it with the disclosure of their fabrication. It is sincerely hoped that Hwang will tell the truth of his stem cell research as his last service as a scientist to put an end to people's confusion over his work.
The title of the paper in Science, published in paper form on June 17, 2005, is "Patient-Specific Embryonic Stem Cells Derived from Human SCNT Blastocysts."