The South Korean president apologised to the nation on Monday for what she described as a “shameful incident” that lead to a former presidential spokesperson being sacked from his role following their recent trip to the United States.
President Park Geun-hye fired her chief spokesman Yoon Chang-jung this week because of what her office labelled as unspecified actions he committed that marred South Korea’s national dignity.
Yoon has denied reports that he sexually molested a Korean-American woman during the trip.
Park held her weekly senior secretaries meeting at the Presidential Office on Monday, and apologised for disappointing South Korean people.
“I sincerely apologise for shocking the overseas female South Korean student and her parents and for deeply hurting other overseas South Koreans’ hearts,” she added.
Park also added that related personnel should actively cooperate in the investigation without any exceptions.
“We will tighten discipline among the people working for the presidential office including the presidential secretariat office. If this kind of incident happens again, all related presidential secretaries will take responsibility,” said the South Korean leader.
Washington Metropolitan Police spokesman have said they are investigating a report of misdemeanour sexual abuse.
A police report obtained by The Associated Press said a woman told police that a man “grabbed her buttocks without her permission” last Tuesday night at the W Washington D.C. hotel.
The police report did not describe the circumstances or identify the accuser or suspect, except to say that the suspect is 56 years old.
Yoon is 56 years old.
South Korean media reports said the woman is a Korean-American in her early 20s who worked for Yoon as part of an internship organised by the South Korean Embassy in the United States.
The mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo newspaper, citing an unidentified acquaintance of the woman, reported on Saturday that Yoon sexually groped her at a hotel bar on Tuesday and asked her to come to his hotel room the next morning and demanded sexual relations.
The newspaper said friends of the woman later reported Yoon’s behaviour to police.
On Saturday, Yoon denied the allegations, telling a news conference that he only tapped her once on the waist, not the buttocks, as part of gesture to cheer her up after drinking alcohol with her and their driver for about 30 minutes.
Yoon said he arranged the brief drinking session because he felt sorry for scolding her several times for allegedly neglecting her duties, including having his vehicle be ready on time.
Yoon denied the allegation that that he summoned her to his hotel room, and that he would seek to take legal action against media outlets that carried inaccurate reports about the scandal.
The incident could be a political blow to Park after an otherwise widely praised appearance in Washington.
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