By Yoo Eun Lee
South Korean President Park Geun-hye fired spokesman Yoon Chang-jung Friday for an “unsavory” act. Yoon is believed to have sexually assaulted a 21-year-old intern earlier this week, during the President’s high-profile trip to the United States. A community website for Korean women living in the US, Missy USA, first reported the case and a screen capture of its disclosure [ko] spread quickly online. Now more details are coming out from various media outlets.
It is still bit too early to confirm the scope of Yoon’s alleged sex crime (whether it is a misdemeanor sexual abuse or close to a rape as claimed in the Missy report) and under which jurisdiction he will be judged (whether in U.S. Court or in South Korea). There are a number of murky aspects to this story.
An epic diplomatic failure?
According to local reports and the initial Missy USA post, the victim is believed [ko] to be a Korean-American US citizen who worked at the Korean Embassy in the United States. Based on various reports published so far net users speculate [ko] that after the victim reported crime police visited Yoon, but as Yoon is a member of a diplomatic delegation needed to take the proper steps required when dealing with diplomats. While police sere handling the extra paperwork Yoon fled the country.
This theory is partly supported by a Yonhap news report [ko], which confirms that Yoon did not even packed his things. Yonhap adds commentary that, “it seems he hurriedly returned to Korea to run away from US police”.
Since the alleged crime took place on US soil it must be investigated and prosecuted according to US law, explains [ko] News Tomato. But the report adds that “it is also possible that the investigation will move to South Korea which follows the nationality principle […] If that happens, things turn extra complicated for the victim since sexual crimes are treated as ‘offense subject to complaint‘ and the more feasible scenario is Yoon trying to to make a settlement with the victim.”
Yoon’s hurried, desperate escape
According to Yonhap news [ko], Yoon did not even pack his things, and Hangyoreh even re-enacted the scene and wrote [ko] that Yoon, while President Park was giving a speech, took a cab to a nearby airport and bought an airline ticket – and paid with a credit card, without forgetting to upgrade it to business-class.
Several local media added even more details [ko]; Yoon, as soon as he came back to South Korea, requested the Secretary’s Office (full name: Senior Secretary to the President for Civil Affairs) to accept his resignation. But his request was denied and, soon after, Yoon was officially fired.
Yoon’s previous record and statements
Yoon, who is an extreme right-winger, is quite a controversial figure even for the conservative ruling party, and there has been sharp criticism of his appointment as spokesman. It is ironic that Yoon, a former columnist, attacked [ko] the previous administration’s lawmakers over their sex scandals and commented, “Korean people endure much stress from hearing news about those ‘crazy dudes’ who constantly commit sexual assault/harassment.”