By: HAKYUNG KATE LEE, ABC News
(SEOUL, South Korea) — A civic group representing the former secretary of Seoul mayor Park Won-soon publicly appealed for an investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Park, who died shortly after the complaint was filed last Friday.
A legal representative of the former secretary, who filed the complaint with the police, read out a statement at the Korea Women’s Hot Line and Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, asking authorities to launch a “proper probe” into the case, writing that the victim took courage in hoping for the prosecution to resolve a #MeToo allegation against power.
Police investigation on the case closed as Park died in an apparent suicide last week.
“I wanted him to be judged by the law. I wanted to receive a humane apology. The day I took courage to file a complaint and was investigated all night, the person who had harmed my dignity let go of his life,” Kim Jae-ryun, the lawyer representing the victim, who hasn’t been named, read out her statement.
The civic group referred to the case as a “typical workplace molestation case” that should be investigated to establish the truth surrounding the allegations. In the statement, the alleged victim claimed that Park made unwanted physical contact and sent inappropriate messages using Telegram, an encrypted messaging app. The statement claimed that the molestation agonized the victim for four years.
“Under South Korea’s current legal system, prosecution ends when the accused party dies, because there is no one to take the responsibility of the alleged crime,” Min Kyoung Chul, attorney at the Dong-kwang law firm, who specializes in defending sexual harassment cases, told ABC News.
The former secretary’s representative also pointed out that Park took his own life not long after a criminal complaint was filed against him. “We have witnessed that a person in the position of Seoul mayor was given a chance to get rid of evidence even before a full-fledged investigation begins. Who in such a situation could trust the national system and report sexual violence?” the representative said.
The press briefing took place the same day Park’s funeral ceremony was held at Seoul’s city hall, seen off by politicians and supporters. Over 20,000 people had visited the mourning altar by Monday afternoon while nearby a group of activists was condemning the city of Seoul for holding a mayoral funeral for someone with sexual harassment allegations.
The former secretary has also filed an additional complaint on the secondary damages people have inflicted on her following Park’s death, accusing her of false accusations and threatening to track down her personal information.
Park was a three-term mayor of Seoul and was considered a strong presidential candidate for the 2022 presidential elections. Before jumping into politics, he was a prominent human rights lawyer who won South Korea’s first sexual harassment conviction. He was also known as a strong supporter for the rights of comfort women, or Korean sex slaves forced to work during the Japanese colonial years.
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