I am a friend of Wonshik Shin ’19. During the week of Dec. 19 last year, I was privileged to have the opportunity to meet and accompany his parents during their visit to Princeton. I am also writing this letter on their behalf to clear their son’s name of the wrongful accusation that an Honor Code violation may have been related to his death. The rumor began from a comment on the Daily Princetonian’s website, which said “I just heard through the grape-vine that it was the act of the honor committee that caused this.” This prompted an exchange about the severity of disciplinary actions for Honor Code violations. Wonshik’s friends, shocked by the groundless accusation, contacted the Daily Princetonian. Although the initial comment is no longer online, the rumor spread quickly. It soon reached Wonshik’s parents in Korea, who were already grieving a loss that no parents should ever have to bear.
Anyone who knew Wonshik would not hesitate to say that he was the kind of person who would always observe the Honor Code. Moreover, I would also like to provide the following facts to conclusively dispel the rumors that have been raised. First, from Dec. 20 to 23, I accompanied Wonshik’s parents as a translator as they met with University representatives. I was present when his parents met with Dr. Patrick Caddeau and Professor Michael Hecht, respectively the Dean and Head of Forbes College, who stated, “Wonshik had no irregularities in his academic record.” This was later confirmed again during a visit to the Office of the Registrar, where Wonshik’s parents received official documents on his academic record. Second, Y.S. Chi ’83, a former trustee of the University who has been helping Wonshik’s parents, personally contacted the school regarding the matter. He was assured that all colleagues from Forbes had been informed that Wonshik had no exposure to or interaction with the Honor Committee. Finally, upon the request of Wonshik’s parents, I went through Wonshik’s phone and laptops with them in person. Because I was aware of such rumors at the time, I carefully checked the inbox, sent, and trash folders in his Princeton email account. I did not find any exchanges with the Honor Committee.
No one, not even Wonshik’s parents, knows why he left us so soon. However, it is beyond any doubt that his death had nothing to do with violations of the Honor Code. Let us remember Wonshik as the kind, loving, and thoughtful person he was. Let us honor his memory.
Aiden Han is a molecular biology major from Seoul, South Korea. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.