Crime & Justice

Seoul to probe sexual misconduct complaint against late mayor

Seoul, Jul 15 (efe-epa).- Seoul’s metropolitan government announced Wednesday that it will open an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against the city’s late mayor, Park Won-soon, whose body was found in woods in the capital a day after a complaint was filed against him.

The city said it would set up a joint committee to “guarantee the fairness and objectivity.”

“Seoul city will strive to strictly get down to the truth through a joint investigative committee involving external experts, such as women’s rights groups, human rights experts and legal experts,” city spokesperson Hwang In-sik said.

All committee members will be in direct contact with Seo Jung-hyup, Seoul’s first vice mayor for administrative matters who is acting mayor until elections are held in April.

However, Hwang did not provide details on the dates or deadlines for the establishment of the committee, nor when the investigation will start.

The body of Park, who was popular with citizens and the only mayor to be re-elected twice in Seoul, was found on a hill in the city on Friday, hours after he left his home and a note saying he was “sorry to everyone” and especially to his family for “causing only pain.”

His death came a day after a female public official, reported to be Park’s former secretary, filed a sexual misconduct complaint against him. Authorities confirmed the complaint following several media reports citing police sources.

At first the city council had said that there were no plans to launch an investigation into the complaint while police had to close the case after Park’s death as South Korea’s law dictates when a suspect dies.

On Monday, Korea Women’s Hot Line, Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center and a lawyer held a press conference on behalf of the civil servant and demanded that the city council investigate the allegations.

Kim Jae-ryun, a lawyer for the alleged victim known as “A,” said that another complaint for “secondary damages” incurred from Park’s death had been filed.

In that regard, Hwang said the city will provide “valid, sufficient and maximum” support to the woman, who continues to work for the city council, so that she can return to normal life.

According to her lawyer, the harassment included text messages and photos as well as inappropriate physical contact over a period of four years, even after the woman was sent to another government post.

The case has once again put a spotlight on the repeated cases of abuse and harassment South Korean women face in their jobs and other areas of daily life. EFE-EPA

asb/pd/tw

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