Prominent South Korean presidential hopeful, Ahn Hee Jung, resigned after his secretary accused him of sexual harassment.
Former secretary Kim Ji Eun accused the governor of South Chungcheong province of sexually abusing her after she was hired in June 2017. The 52-year-old politician from the Democratic Party was a runner-up against Moon Jae-in last year.
While speaking on a TV news show, Kim accused her boss of raping her four times over the past eight months from June 2017 to February this year; she also claimed he sexually harassed her on many occasions.
“The governor called me in late at night recently and looked uneasy when he brought up the #MeToo movement issue. He said he learned from the movement that what he did hurt me and apologised,” Kim told local cable channel JTBC.
“I thought he wouldn’t do it that night, but he did it again. It was Feb. 25,” she continued.
The 33-year-old plans to file a legal complaint against the former presidential hopeful. She explained how at first she wasn’t courageous enough to come out and let the world know about her ordeal, but the #MeToo movement that started in South Korea by the end of January inspired her to share her story.
"I did not have the courage to come forward, but I was inspired by those participating in the #MeToo movement," she said.
Kim mentioned the abuse of power that took place in Ahn’s office and how it was complicated for her to reject her boss’s requests.
"The person I am most scared of is Gov. Ahn Hee Jung," she said with teary eyes during the interview.
After the interview, the ruling Democratic Party reportedly held an emergency meeting and expelled Ahn. However, his office initially denied Kim’s accusations, claiming the governor had consensual sexual relations with the secretary but later, Ahn, who is married and has two children, himself admitted his fault and announced retirement from public life.
"It is all my fault. I seek forgiveness for my foolish act. I apologize to everyone, especially to Miss Kim Ji Eun,” he said on a Facebook post.
Ironically, the day Kim made his boss’s vile behavior public, he had expressed support for the #MeToo movement.
"I see the ongoing #MeToo movement as progress to resist against a culture that is very much male-dominated," he said at an event with his employees at the South Chungcheong Provincial Government building. "I hope the movement can be an opportunity for us to make a fairer and more peaceful society."
Ahn was viewed as a very strong candidate who could take over from Moon after his five-year term ends in 2022. His fall comes after the #MeToo movement that was previously muted in South Korea became prominent.
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Kim Hong-Ji