Seoul City pressed to get to the bottom of scandal

15-Jul-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The Seoul Metropolitan government is under growing pressure to investigate the sexual harassment allegations made against the late Mayor Park Won-soon.

The police haven’t officially announced any relation between Park’s suicide and the harassment allegations, but it’s widely thought that he took his own life because of the pressure he felt from these.

The former mayor committed suicide in a forest on Mount Bugak, northern Seoul, Thursday, one day after his former secretary filed a sexual harassment complaint with the police. Speaking at a press conference, the victim’s lawyer said the victim had been harassed for four years ? between 2016 and earlier this year ? but her attempts to get help were ignored.

The city is being urged to act immediately because the police are expected to close the case. Criminal law doesn’t give the law enforcement body the grounds to continue investigations when those accused are no longer alive.

Observers say the city has a good reason to act because it is facing growing criticism over failing to give an early response to complaints from its employee.

“The victim reached out for help within the city government but had to stop because colleagues told the victim to take it easy over a minor mistake made by the mayor who had acted out of character,” according to the victim’s lawyer, Monday.

Speaking with the Hankook Ilbo, the sister paper of The Korea Times, Prof Lee Soo-jung who teaches criminal psychology at Kyonggi University said the investigation should look into whether city officials systematically concealed the accusations against the mayor.

“An investigation needs to find out why her complaints at work went nowhere. It also must uncover if any attempts concealment were done collectively and systematically,” Lee noted.

Also, a city investigation is warranted to unearth more about a brand new allegation raised after Park’s death.

The victim’s lawyer said Monday that Park had taken his life before he was formally accused and so he must have been told about the harassment complaint by someone immediately after it was filed. Usually, it takes days before the accused is notified of a case being lodged against them.

It is illegal for a government official to leak or share job-related information with those outside their specific work environment.

Conservative Future Unity Party Rep. Joo Ho-young has claimed that someone at Cheong Wa Dae was the secret informant. The presidential office has publicly denied this saying it had been made aware of the complaint but hadn’t told Park. Police also denied informing the late mayor.

The key to the answer could be phone calls made during Park’s last hours in the forest. The police said they will conduct a digital forensic examination of his phone.

Responding to the growing calls for an investigation, city officials said they were aware of these and were considering their options.


Category: Korea

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